NASA’s Juno Probe Makes Closest Encounter With Jupiter

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft made its closest scheduled swing over the cloud tops of the giant planet Jupiter today, completing the first full orbit of its prime mission.

The solar-powered probe zoomed about 2,600 miles above the clouds at a speed of 130,000 mph, at 5:51 a.m. PT. It was the first close encounter since Juno entered Jovian orbit on July 4, 53 days ago.

Juno had all of its science instruments turned on, plus its JunoCam visible-light imager, but the first pictures from the encounter aren’t expected to become available until the latter part of next week.

The pictures should provide the closest-in view of the Jovian atmosphere we’ve ever seen. There should also be some great glimpses of Jupiter’s north and south poles, NASA says.

JunoCam was included on Juno’s payload primarily for public outreach purposes. The $1.1 billion mission’s primary science objectives are to study the planet’s magnetic and gravitational fields, and to determine its interior composition.

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SOURCE: Geek Wire, Alan Boyle