“A Strange, Alien World” –NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Will Probe Beneath Jupiter’s Cloudtops Today (WATCH Today’s Galaxy’ Stream)  

 

PIA21779-16

 

 

Secrets lie deep within Jupiter, shrouded in the solar system’s strongest magnetic field and most lethal radiation belts. On July 4, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft  plunged into uncharted territory, entering orbit around the gas giant and passing closer than any spacecraft before. “Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute.


NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its seventh science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops on Friday, Sept. 1, at 2:49 p.m. PDT (5:49 p.m. EDT and 21:49 UTC). At the time of perijove (defined as the point in Juno’s orbit when it is closest to the planet’s center), the spacecraft will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops.

Jupiter is a strange, alien world of Mars-sized polar cyclones, colossal swirling storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant, and a gigantic magnetic field that may indicate it was generated closer to the planet’s surface than previously thought.

 

 

Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter, and the majority of each orbit is spent well away from the gas giant. But, once every 53 days, its trajectory approaches Jupiter from above its north pole, where it begins a two-hour transit (from pole to pole) flying north to south with its eight science instruments collecting data and its JunoCam public outreach camera snapping pictures. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the transit can take 1.5 days.

After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35-minute engine burn. Confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53 pm. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4, 2016.

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Citizen scientist David Englund created the avant-garde Jovian artwork above using data from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/David Englund)

The Daily Galaxy via https://www.nasa.gov/juno

"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily