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Juno Completes Fifth Pass to Jupiter, Scientists to Discuss First In-Depth Result in Media Conference

May 23, 2017 11:25 AM EDT
Juno's Latest Close Flyby
Juno performed its fifth flyby to Jupiter last May 19. The next approach will take place o July 11.
(Photo : NASA/YouTube Screenshot)

NASA Juno spacecraft continues to observe the giant gas planet Jupiter. It successfully completed its fifth pass over the planet on May 19.

During the flyby, JunoCam instrument aboard the spacecraft captured the cloud tops showing amazing details of the planet's surface. Scientists Bjorn Jonsson processed the image collected by JunoCam to come up with the final result.

According to NASA, not only was the cloud tops photographed but also a massive counterclockwise rotating storm was also included in the image. It appears as a white oval shape near the southern hemisphere of Jupiter.

Juno spent about five years traveling from Earth to Jupiter. It was launched in 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base launch pad in Florida. It is an ambitious project since the spacecraft should survive a 35-minute engine burn maneuver allowing it to be captured by the gas planet's orbit.

After experiencing several technical glitches and road blocks throughout its mission, Juno is now continuously beaming back data from Jupiter to Earth. The next flyby mission of the spacecraft is scheduled on July 11 and it will focus on the gas planet's distinctive Great Red Spot.

Juno is currently positioned in Jupiter's orbit and its capable of soaring low near the planet's cloud tops with the closest distance of about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). Flybys allow the spacecraft to take a peek into the planet's surface beyond the clouds.

This month, NASA Juno scientists will also discuss the first in-depth science result of the mission since it arrived in Jupiter's orbit. A media teleconference is scheduled on May 25. During the media teleconference, some papers pertaining to Jupiter will be presented and some will be also be published in the journal Science and Geophysical Research Letters.

In total, Juno has completed around 63.5 million miles (102 million kilometers) since arriving in Jupiter in 2016. Most images taken by the JunoCam instrument aboard the spacecraft are free of use for the public.

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