Juno Completes First Orbit of Jupiter

Jupiter’s North Pole Unlike Anything Encountered in Solar System

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this view as it closed in on Jupiter’s north pole, about two hours before closest approach on 27 Aug., 2016. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Click the image for full, hi-res view

Having completed a brilliant orbital insertion on 4 July, Juno has successfully completed the first of 36 orbits of Jupiter.

As it passed within 4,200 Km (2,600 mi) of the giant planet’s upper cloud decks at 6:44 a.m. PDT (9:44 a.m. EDT, 13:44 UTC), it was traveling at 208,000 Km/hr (58 Km/sec!). This flyby was the closest Juno will get to Jupiter during its prime mission.

Said Juno project manager, Rick Nybakken

“Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders”

There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter planned during Juno’s mission (scheduled to end in February 2018). The 27 August flyby was the first time Juno had its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft flew by.

Said Scott Bolton, the Juno project’s principal investigator

“We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak,” said . “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.”

“It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features”

The results from the spacecraft’s suite of instruments will be released over the coming weeks and months, a handful of images from Juno’s visible light imager, JunoCam, are expected to be released over the next couple of weeks. Those images will include the highest-resolution views of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter’s north and south poles.

Bolton went on to say

“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”

The Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), supplied by the Italian Space Agency, acquired some remarkable images of Jupiter at its north and south polar regions in infrared wavelengths.

Said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome

“JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet. These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before. And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter’s south pole could reveal the planet’s southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time.”

Spectacular Infrared View of Jupiter’s South Pole with the Southern Aurora As a “Ring Of Fire”

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This infrared image from Juno provides an unprecedented view of Jupiter’s southern aurora. Such views are not possible from Earth. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Click the image for the full, hi-res view


Spectacular Infrared Scan of Jupiter With JIRAM as Juno Zips By


Note: the upper (blue) box in the scan is Jupiter at 3.45 microns wavelength in the Infrared, the lower box is Jupiter at 4.8 microns wavelength, also in the Infrared. Infrared mapping helps us more fully understand the internal chemical and atmospheric interactions below the upper cloud decks. This composite video was compiled from 580 separate images over a period of nine hours as Jupiter completed almost one full rotation.


Audio Analog of Radio Emissions From Jupiter’s Auroras


Note: the frequency range of these signals is between 7 and 140 Khz and was acquired over a period of 13 hours and recorded by the “Waves” instrument.


To follow Juno during its 2-year mission of discovery at Jupiter, visit NASA’s Juno home page. For a more scientific, involved, interactive experience, visit the Southwest Research Institute’s Juno page, complete with an individual user portal where the general public can join in discussion forums and share their own images [of Jupiter] with the Juno team and the public.

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