NASA’s $1 Billion Juno Mission Starts Unraveling Jupiter’s Secrets With Breathtaking New Images

NASA’s Juno mission took another set of incredibly beautiful images of Jupiter while performing its fifth flyby since the probe reached Jupiter.

Image Source: NASA

The images were taken on March 27, while Juno swept Jupiter at 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) with a speed relative to the planet of about 129,000 miles per hour (208,000 kilometers per hour). The new images may lead scientists to new discoveries about out solar system’s biggest planet. Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, stated that “We are excited to see what new discoveries Juno will reveal.”

Bolton also noted that “Every time we get near Jupiter’s cloud tops, we learn new insights that help us understand this amazing giant planet.” And that’s why Juno was sent to Jupiter in the first place. Named after a Roman goddess from who’s eyes Jupiter, her husband, could not hide, Juno is revealing more and more about Jupiter in an effort to provide as much data about the planet as it can.

During the last flyby, the craft’s instruments picked up information about Jupiter’s atmosphere, gravity, and electromagnetic fields, while at the same time Juno’s camera took breathtaking images of the planet.

Juno launched in August 2011, reaching Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Since then the probe managed to perform five flybys around the planet, giving astronomers tons of useful data. During its lifetime, the probe should take a total of 37 orbits around Jupiter.

The probe sweeps Jupiter in about 14 days. It took the craft 9 months to perform the first 5 flybys. Flybys give Juno a chance to see the planet and “to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere.”

The mission’s goal is to collect data regarding Jupiter’s composition, how the planet formed, and how it changed since its formation. The mission will end in February 2018, after the probe plummets into the planet.