This series of enhanced-color images shows Jupiter up close and personal, as NASA’s Juno spacecraft performed its eighth flyby of the gas giant planet. The images were obtained by JunoCam.
(Sheridan, Wyo) For over a millennium, the heavens, stars, and planets have fascinated the minds of millions who would look up into that inky blackness of the night sky and ponder the universe and our place in it. From the stars and planets, humankind has derived stories, formed multiple religions and even developed a means to navigate our own planet. But none of the stars and planets in the far reaches of space have instilled such strong feelings of wonder and imagination as our own solar system. More specifically, a single planet within it floating 365 million miles away from earth at its closest point. The ancient Greeks believed it to be the embodiment of Zeus, the greatest of the Olympian gods and the God of the Heavens. We know it, as the superior, faintly ringed gas giant- Jupiter.
What Jupiter looks like has been generally known since
the time of Galileo, the great Italian physicist and astronomer. Photos of the epic planet have been released over the years, since such technology was available, for the public to view. These photos gave the world a general idea of what Jupiter looks like as it revolves around the earth at 29,236 miles per hour. But now, Jupiter is being viewed as it never has been before, all thanks to Juno, the satellite launched by NASA in 2011, which has sent back its latest batch of high definition images. The data was received by NASA on Oct. 31 and the images themselves, are incredible.
Being the spacecraft designed to embark on the second mission under NASA’s New Frontiers Program, Juno was originally launched on Aug. 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016.
The craft carries out multiple flybys at low altitude, for Jupiter at least, of around 2,100 miles, studying the planets auras to discover new aspects of Jupiter’s origins and planetary makeup.
As reported by NASA, Juno was originally intended to determine the water levels, atmospheric composition, magnetic/gravity fields of the neighborhood gas giant. Juno was also to explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles. All with the goal of understanding the origin planet’s origins and evolution.
Juno is currently investigating the existence of a solid planetary core and is measuring the planet’s atmosphere.
With this last stream of images, Juno has successfully completed its eighth science flyby over Jupiter. Juno will make another close flyby on Jupiter on Dec. 16.
NASA says that the Juno mission will continue to operate within the current budget through July 2018 and will complete a total of 12 science orbits.