NASA’s Juno mission successfully executed its first of 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter over the weekend.
Zooming along at approximately 130,000 mph, the Juno spacecraft passed about 2,600 miles above Jupiter’s swirling clouds in the early hours of August 27.
“Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Complete results from the spacecraft’s instruments will be released down the road, but a handful of images from Juno’s visible light imager — called JunoCam — are expected to be released to the public in the next couple of weeks.
Those first images will represent the highest-resolution views of the Jovian atmosphere ever taken and the first glimpse of Jupiter’s north and south poles.
“We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us.”
You can track the spacecraft’s current location in orbit of Jupiter via the NASA website.
“We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world,” said Bolton.
The spacecraft will continue to orbit Jupiter until at least 2018, with an addition 35 close fly-bys of the planet planned.
Juno first launched from Kennedy Space Center in August of 2011, and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. This was the first time all of the spacecraft’s scientific instruments had been powered on at once and focused on the planet.