On March 27, NASA’s Juno spaceship passed right over the cloud tops of Jupiter for the fourth, capturing an unbelievable photograph. The spacecraft has started its mission back in 2016, on July 4th. Since then, the probe approached the giant planet to four times to gather science data. This was the first flyby of the spaceship since NASA managers decided to maintain the craft in its current orbit, giving up to their plan of descending it into a tighter orbit.
- Jupiter’s cloud tops were captured by Juno spaceship’s camera.
- The spacecraft passed right by Jupiter for the fourth time since its mission started.
- The mission focuses on analyzing the magnetic field of the giant planet.
Currently, Juno preserved its initial trajectory, flying by Jupiter at a distance of several million miles away, returning for another flyby every 53 days. NASA indicated that Juno spaceship was developed and operated by Lockheed Martin. On Monday, the ship passed about 2,700 miles over the cloud tops of Jupiter, having a speed of 129,000 mph. Juno reached the point of closest approach at 4:52 a.m. EDT on March 27.
Scott Bolton, the principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, stated that every time the spaceship approaches Jupiter’s cloud tops, scientists can observe and find out more data which helps them develop a better understanding of this planet. Juno spaceship traveled inside the radiation belts of the giant planet six times now, including July 4th when Juno made it arrival maneuver, powering its main engine to enter Jupiter’s orbit.
During the first encounter, Juno’s instruments were deactivated, having as a sole purpose the make-or-break engine burst. The craft entered in safe mode before a flyby that happened in October. During that approach, the spaceship did not collect any information regarding Jupiter. NASA designed the Juno mission to analyze the magnetic field of Jupiter which was revealed to be more complicated compared to what scientists have initially thought.
The craft also collected data regarding the deep interior structure, unveiling insights regarding its atmosphere. Based on data provided by NASA, the differently colored belts and zones of Jupiter expand deep inside its atmosphere. Juno spaceship’s data travel indicates that the amazing auroras which are forming there may be related to volcanoes on the moon Io.
Last month, NASA officials decided not to take the risk and preserve Juno’s initial orbit around the giant planet, without risking another main engine burn after specialists had already detected some problems with check valves.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia