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NASA's Juno Completes Third Jupiter Flyby, Captures 'String of Pearls' Storm Formation on the Planet's Surface

Dec 15, 2016 10:20 AM EST
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Juno successfully completed its third flyby of Jupiter. This time, the NASA spacecraft managed to capture the stunning image of the odd storm formations on the surface of Jupiter called the "String of Pearls".

The instruments aboard the NASA spacecraft were activated in order to capture images of the planet. The JunoCam aboard the spacecraft photograph the Jupiter "pearls" that are actually a series of Jovian storms that looks like pearls or oval formations found in the southern part of Jupiter.

"Since 1986, these white ovals have varied in number from six to nine. There are currently eight white ovals visible," DC Agle of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a press release

Juno was at 15,300 miles (24,600 kilometers) distance from the planet when the images were taken last Dec. 11. This is the third time Juno has conducted a flyby of the planet since it arrived in the region earlier this year. In order to capture the perplexing string of storms, the spacecraft used the JunoCam that is capable of photographing clouds and poles of the planet without losing image quality.

However, the JunoCam is still not considered as one of the main scientific payloads of the spacecraft but it has definitely ushered in the more in-depth scientific exploration that is yet to take place.

"This will be the first time we are planning to operate the full Juno capability to investigate Jupiter's interior structure via its gravity field," Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute said in a statement. "We are looking forward to what Jupiter's gravity may reveal about the gas giant's past and its future."

Despite several glitches early on the mission, engineers are confident that Juno will be able to survive the harsh environment of Jupiter to be able to deliver more data to Earth.


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