Space – See 7 Jaw-Dropping New Photos Of Jupiter Taken This Week By NASA’s Juno
More beautiful images of Jupiter are streaming in from NASA’s Juno spacecraft 390 million miles/628 million kilometers away.
Freshly arrived across NASA’s Deep Space Network after crossing 34 light-minutes and swiftly processed by a team of volunteer “citizen scientists,” the latest images show the Solar System’s biggest planet looking as fabulous as Juno raced from pole to pole in under three hours.
These images from its 35th perijove (close flyby) come just days before the 10th anniversary of the solar-powered probe’s launch on August 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Built by Lockheed Martin and operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s $1.1 billion spacecraft successfully entered the orbit of Jupiter on July 4, 2016, almost exactly five years ago.
During that time the spacecraft—which has been in an elliptical orbit so it can cruise closer than any other to the tops of Jupiter’s clouds—has made some incredible discoveries.
The latest finding is the trigger for the powerful radio emissions within the giant planet’s mighty magnetic field, which is about 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s and can extend to two million miles/3.2 million kilometers toward the Sun (and over 600 million miles/965 million kilometers away from it).
The Juno Waves instrument registered radio emissions from Jupiter’s magnetic field to find their precise locations by listening to the rain of electrons flowing onto the planet from its volcanic moon Io. “The radio emission is likely constant, but Juno has to be in the right spot to listen,” said Yasmina Martos at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland. It’s a bit like a lighthouse beacon shining briefly on a ship at sea.
The closest to Jupiter of its 79 moons, Io is tugged by the gravity of the giant planet and two of its other moons, which creates heat in its core—and triggers constant volcanic eruptions on its surface.
The furthest solar-powered spacecraft from Earth, Juno will flyby the volcanic moon of Io twice in its new extended mission, getting to within 900 miles/1,500 km of it on both December 30, 2023 and on February 3, 2024.
The findings at Io come in the wake of a recent course correction that saw Juno able to get close-ups of another moon, Ganymede—in fact, the largest moon in the Solar System. On June 7, 2021 it got to within 645 miles/1,000 kilometers.
It had just 25 minutes to take five exposures. The images have just been used to make an animation with a “starship captain” point of view.
Juno will also get to within 200 miles/320 kilometers of Europa on September 29, 2022. After that it’s possible that another mission extension will materialize, though that depends on the spacecraft and its battery remaining healthy.
When Juno does ultimately get fatally affected by the intense radiation at Jupiter it will perform a “death dive” into the gas planet to stop it from crashing into one of Jupiter’s Galilean moons—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. All are viewed as possibly containing simple microbial life.
Despite its moon-centric new mission, most of Juno’s time will be spent photographing and studying Jupiter, the “King of Planets.”
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.