NASA: Juno Sent First Photo of Jupiter, Moons After Entering Orbit
Juno spacecraft sent its first photo of Jupiter and its moons after entering the planet's orbit on July 4 and the photo is nothing short of amazing.
This photo marked Juno's 20-month mission orbiting the giant gas planet to study its composition. JunoCam aboard the solar-powered spacecraft captured the image 2.7 million miles away from Jupiter. The distance was very short that some features of Jupiter, such as the Great Red Spot, as well as three of its four largest moons, were visible in the image.
"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," Scott Bolton, principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute said in a statement. "We can't wait to see the first view of Jupiter's poles," Bolton added.
Bolton and the Juno team rejoiced as the image is also proof that Juno survived the engine break maneuvering that enabled Juno to enter Jupiter's orbit. Juno traveled for five years to reach the destination planet and is expected to orbit Jupiter for 37 times in the course of its mission.
The Juno mission is one of the most fascinating albeit dangerous missions within the Solar System. The spacecraft needs to withstand the harsh environment of Jupiter dubbed as the biggest and baddest planet in the Solar System, including its high level of radiation.
Juno will move near Jupiter in August and NASA is expecting science to arrive on Earth by September. Juno made the closest approach to Jupiter in history. Its position near the north pole of the host planet will also give the spacecraft a different perspective in capturing images of the planet.