On Saturday, Aug. 27, NASA’s Juno spacecraft pulled off the first of 36 high-speed flybys of Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system.
Juno strafed the gas giant at a speed of roughly 130,000 mph — briefly making it the fastest human-made object ever launched — and recorded crucial data that it will beam back in the coming days and researchers will pore over for years.
But during its trip, the pinwheel-shaped spacecraft took a moment to photograph Jupiter in all its swirling, gassy splendor and beam this image back to Earth:
It may not look like much, but it’s the closest view of the so-called “King of the Solar System” we’ve seen since 2007. That’s when NASA’s New Horizons probe paid a visit while stealing some gravitational energy to make it to Pluto.
“We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world,” Scott Bolton, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and the Juno mission’s leader, said in a NASA statement.
Prior to New Horizons, the Cassini mission took some gorgeous photos of the 89,000-mile-wide planet before continuing on to Saturn.
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SOURCE: Business Insider, Dave Mosher