NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Successfully Completes its First of 36 Jupiter Flybys

August 31, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

jupiter flyby
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS (image has been cropped)

This is the closest approach Juno will have with Jupiter during its prime mission.

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft successfully completed the first of its 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter on August 27th.  The craft soared at its closest approach just 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the Jovian clouds, while completing its first orbit around the gas giant.

"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 in Pasadena, California, in a media release.

SEE NEXT: First In-Orbit Images From NASA's Juno Spacecraft

Juno’s mission is to help improve our understanding of how Jupiter once formed, and on August 27th, the craft had all of its scientific instrumentation activated to gather as much information about Jupiter as possible as it made its first orbital flyby.  

"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."

Although not all of the data captured by the craft during its first orbital flyby will be released immediately, NASA did mention that some images captured by the JunoCam will be released over the next couple of weeks.  They ensure that the images will include high-resolution views of Jupiter’s atmosphere and glimpses of the planet’s north and south poles.

"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.

We can also look forward to 35 more orbital flybys over the coming months, which will contain just as much data to analyze before Juno’s mission will end in February 2018.  

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