Earlier this week, NASA revealed some incredible new images. These offered a new look at Jupiter and were captured by Juno. On Monday, March 27th, the spacecraft achieved its fifth close flyby of the planet.
Juno Is NASA’s Mission To Jupiter
The Juno spacecraft is part of NASA’s mission to study Jupiter. Following a 5-years journey through space, the spacecraft reached its orbit on July 04th, 2016. Since then, it has managed to successfully carry out five flybys of the planet.
Following such an event, but also in general, Juno beamed back several data on Jupiter. This included information on its cloud structures, composition, its magnetic fields, and magnificent auroras.
On March 27th, the spacecraft carried out its fifth successful flyby and fourth science pass. Juno was closest to the planet at around 4:52 a.m. or 08:52 GMT. At that moment, the spacecraft was some 2,700 miles over the gas giant’s cloud tops. This altitude allowed its instruments to collect data on Jupiter’s atmosphere, electromagnetic fields, and also its gravity.
It also offered a quite stunning new look at the planet. Juno captured new photos of Jupiter with help from its JunoCam. This was able to click close-up pictures of Jupiter. NASA officials revealed one such image on its Twitter page. The officials also released a statement posted on the official NASA newsroom.
— NASA (@NASA) March 27, 2017
According to it, Juno’s instruments were fully functional during the flyby. They were also able to beam back the data they gathered during this most recent flyby. Such events can take place just once in 53 days. This is because Juno is in an elliptical orbit around Jupiter.
Juno, Jupiter, And It’s Mission’s End
The spacecraft will continue carrying out flybys of the planet. Initially, the mission team was planning on reducing Juno’s orbit. This would have been shortened from 53 to 14 days. However, a technical issue spotted last month determined the researchers to maintain the current course.
As such, Juno will continue on its current track up until the mission’s end. This will be taking place sometime in February 2018. At the time, the spacecraft will be taking an intentional plunge into the gas giant. Following its 20 months in orbit, Juno will crash land on the planet whilst also offering a never before look at its atmosphere.
According to the mission team: “[…] Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere.”
As it is, researchers are still studying the data it beamed back following its other flybys. According to its statement, the team is also expecting to publish new studies on the matter in the following months.
Image Source: Flickr