First In-Orbit Images From NASA's Juno Spacecraft

July 15, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

First photo taken by Juno after entering Jupiter's orbit
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has beamed some of the first images taken from its JunoCam back to Earth after the vessel entered into orbit around Jupiter on July 4th.

This image, taken July 10, 2016 at 5.30 UTC, shows some atmospheric features on Jupiter including the Great Red Spot and also captures three of Jupiter’s four largest moons, Io, Europa and Ganymede (from left to right in the image).

The images are evidence that JunoCam survived its passage through Jupiter’s extremely damaging radiation belts as it entered into orbit around the gas giant.

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"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 is a color, visible light camera capable of capturing remarkable pictures of Jupiter’s poles and clouds on the planet. Although the JunoCam is not actually considered as one of the spacecraft’s science instruments, it will be used for purposes of public engagement by capturing breathtaking images of the giant planet while it circles the Jovian world 37 times.

"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."

While we wait for the next images from JunoCam, enjoy this time-lapse video of Jupiter and the Galilean moons captured by the Juno spacecraft as it approached the planet:


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