NASA’s Juno spacecraft is in orbit around Jupiter and has sent its first in-orbit view of Jupiter after it capped a five-year journey to the planet last week.
Juno was sent to probe the origins of the biggest planet in the solar system and find out how it impacted the rise of life on Earth, the U.S. space agency said.
The image, the first to be released since Juno’s arrival, was obtained when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter. It shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, and three of the massive planet’s four largest moons — Io, Europa and Ganymede.
“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,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We can’t wait to see the first view of Jupiter’s poles.”
The JunoCam camera aboard NASA’s Juno mission was turned on six days after Juno fired its main engine and placed itself into orbit around the largest planet. The first high-resolution images of the gas giant are still a few weeks away.
“JunoCam will continue to take images as we go around in this first orbit,” said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. “The first high-resolution images of the planet will be taken on August 27 when Juno makes its next close pass to Jupiter.”
During its mission of exploration, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times, soaring low over the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers).
During these flybys, Juno will probe beneath the cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.