The JunoCam camera aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft sends a photograph taken from Jupiter’s orbit, the first one since its arrival at the gas giant’s orbit on July 4. This photo, captured on July 10, 2016 at 10:30 AM PDT (1:30 PM EDT, 5:30 UTC), shows Jupiter’s Great Red spot, other atmospheric features and Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa and Ganymede.
The Juno spacecraft was 4.3 million kilometers or 2.7 million miles away from the planet so the image is not that clear. Scientists assert that the first high-resolution images will be taken in a few weeks, most probably on August 27 when Juno passes close to Jupiter.
“This scene from JunoCam indicates it survived its first pass through Jupiter’s extreme radiation environment without any degradation and is ready to take on Jupiter,” points out principal investigator Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We can’t wait to see the first view of Jupiter’s poles.”
Juno co-investigator Candy Hansen from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona adds that JunoCam will keep taking pictures as the spacecraft goes around the planet’s orbit. The camera is built to take stunning photos of the planet’s poles and cloud tops, which will be uploaded on the mission’s website so everyone can see them.
It took NASA’s Juno spacecraft five years to enter Jupiter’s orbit. We received confirmation that the 35-minute engine burn had completed at 8:53 PM PDT or 11:53 PM EDT last Monday, July 4.
During its mission Juno will circle the largest planet in our solar system for about 37 times. It will fly as close as 4,100 kilometers or 2,600 miles over Jupiter. Juno’s main goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter and its other gathered data will also help uncover the planet’s structure, atmosphere and its magnetosphere.
The spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver on Aug. 5, 2011.