As per the latest updates by NASA, Juno spacecraft that is orbiting Jupiter has successfully completed its tenth science orbit during the close flyby over Jupiter’s scary atmosphere on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Juno made the closest approach at 6:36 a.m. PST (9:36 a.m. PST) Earth-received time. Scientists revealed that the spacecraft was just 2,100 miles (3,500 kilometers) when it made the closest approach.
This flyby was a gravity science orientation pass. During orbits that highlight gravity experiments, Juno is in an Earth-pointed orientation that allows both the X-band and Ka-Band transmitter to downlink data in real-time to one of the antennas of NASA’s Deep Space Network in Goldstone, California. All of Juno’s science instruments and the spacecraft’s JunoCam were in operation during the flyby, collecting data that is now being returned to Earth.
During the flyby, the iconic spacecraft also captured some beautiful images of the gas giant that look mesmerizing and are a treat to watch for space enthusiasts. One can see clouds as a string of pearls, some large pearls represent very massive tornadoes on the gaseous planet. These tornadoes are so massive that they can engulf several Earth within them.
JunoCam is a color, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops. As Juno’s eyes, it provides a wide view, helps to give context for the spacecraft’s other instruments. JunoCam was included on the spacecraft specifically for purposes of public engagement; although its images will be helpful to the science team, it is not considered one of the mission’s science instruments
The Juno spacecraft took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Aug 5, 2011, and reached Jupiter after completing nearly five years long journey on July 5, 2016. Since then, the spacecraft has made several flybys of the gas giant to study its auroras and to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere.
Juno’s name comes from Roman mythology. The mythical god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife — the goddess Juno — was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter’s true nature.
JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages JPL for NASA.