Thursday, 22 June, 2017

Juno orbiter races by Jupiter on fourth science pass

NASA's Juno Preps For Fifth Jupiter Flyby, All Science Instruments To Be Switched On NASA's Juno spacecraft to make its Fifth flyby over Jupiter's mysterious Cloud Tops
Devin Neal | 30 March, 2017, 02:05

Juno space probe whizzed closely by Jupiter on Monday (March 27th) in its fifth flyby of the gas giant, the American space agency announced.

Juno's mission is to measure Jupiter's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere.

Juno arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after a almost five-year journey through deep space.

The image was captured by JunoCam on February 2, 2017, at 5:13 am PDT (8:13 a.m. EDT) from a distance of 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) above the giant planet's cloud tops. During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and explore the swirling clouds that form Jupiter's colorful, trademark atmosphere.

The JunoCam captured this image on February 2, 2017, where the NASA's Juno spacecraft soared directly over Jupiter's south pole.

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JUNO orbits the planet Jupiter and is operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But a newly released, enhanced-color image of a large dark spot might be the most ethereal of all-its swirling, colorful clouds make it seem like a Jovian Van Gogh.

According to NASA, all of Juno's science instruments and the spacecraft's JunoCam were on during the flyby, collecting data that is now being returned to Earth.

As such, Juno will continue on its current track up until the mission's end. Such events can take place just once in 53 days. Following its 20 months in orbit, Juno will crash land on the planet whilst also offering a never before look at its atmosphere. It arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Initially, the mission team was planning on reducing Juno's orbit.

Here are a handful of our favorite shots from the fifth orbit, plus a few other images that space fans have recently uploaded to Juno's website from previous flybys. During the time of its closest approach, which is termed as "perijove", Juno will be about 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) above the Jupiter's cloud tops.

He said NASA will invite outside scientists specializing in heliophysics to join the Juno science team and "complement the mission".

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