JUNO | Close Flyby of Jupiter | 19 May 2017

The JUNO spacecraft continues its mission of very close flybys of the cloud tops of Jupiter. The most recent pass was on 19 May 2017. Images downloaded from the JunoCam instrument were made available to the public. I downloaded two sets in red, green, and blue filtered grayscale. Each set was combined into color versions using Photoshop and techniques described in a previous post. The colors are my interpretation and not necessarily real.

Jupiter | Third Juno Close Flyby

The Juno spacecraft successfully made a third close flyby of Jupiter on 11 Dec 2016. It was initially captured in orbit on 4 July 2016 as I noted in this blog post. The next close pass will be in early February. This brief animation illustrates a close flyby as Juno skims barely above the cloud tops of Jupiter.

 

On board Juno is a video camera called JunoCam. During the passes, JunoCam captures images which are sent to Earth. They are available to the public for download and processing. NASA hopes the public will use the images in creative projects. The creations can then be uploaded back to the JunoCam site for others to view.

I downloaded three images in Red, Green, and Blue of the south polar region of Jupiter. The video above shows Juno approaching over the north pole, passing very close to the equator, then receding below the south pole with each orbit. My three images were taken when Juno was directly below Jupiter’s south pole.

Using Photoshop, I opened the three RGB files, adjusted them for intensity, them combined them into this color composite. The program allowed me to adjust the saturation of many different colors across the face of the planet for enhancement. I uploaded it back to JunoCam. The colors are not realistic. But they do show the differences and circulations more readily. That was fun.

saturnspole

Jupiter | Juno Flyby | Venus Conjunction

On 27 August 2016, Jupiter was involved in two interesting events. At around 7:44 am CDT the Juno spacecraft made a very close and fast flyby of the planet going 130,000 mph. It came within 2600 miles of the cloud tops, the closest to the clouds for the entire mission of 35 more orbits. NASA reported the entire suite of scientific instruments was turned on and functioned well. Data will be returned over the next days and weeks.

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The image at left is a view of the north pole of Jupiter just prior to the flyby. The polar orbit is a first for Jupiter exploration.

According to Scott Bolton, principal investigator, “We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak. 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. 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.”

High resolution images will be released in the next two weeks.

More information and details about the Juno mission are available at this previous post.


At sunset also on the 27th, Jupiter and Venus aligned about 1/2˚ apart low in the western sky. That is the width of a full-moon. The dense cloud cover earlier in the day gave way to some partially clear sky for the evening show. The air was laden with much moisture and cloud remnants. The planets were visible. But, hazy conditions made their images not sharp and clear. I couldn’t wait for darkness because the clouds were approaching. Below is a wide view and a fully zoomed view. Venus is the upper and brightest of the two.

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2016_0827JupVen5

Jupiter aligned with Venus but was much more distant, small and dim.

Juno | Welcome to Jupiter

UPDATE: The Juno spacecraft was successfully captured into a long eccentric orbit. The main engine burned about 35 minutes to slow down as planned when Juno was at its closest to Jupiter depicted in the animation below. The spacecraft performed as expected. All scientists breathed a sigh of relief.


Original Post: The Juno spacecraft launched in August 2011. It coasted away from Earth and returned for a gravity assist flyby in October 2013. That flyby boosted the speed of Juno enabling it to coast away from the Sun and toward Jupiter. It arrives at Jupiter on the 4th of July at 9:30 CDT.

The trajectory brings Juno toward Jupiter over the north pole going 160,000 mph (257,000 km/h) . Its rocket will fire for about 35 min to slow it down in order to be captured in a highly eccentric polar orbit. Previous spacecraft have never visited Jupiter in this kind of orbit or this close. What will Juno encounter?

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Jupiter | Juno Arrives 4 July 2016

The Juno spacecraft launched in August 2011. It coasted away from Earth and returned for a gravity assist flyby in October 2013. That flyby boosted the speed of Juno enabling it to coast away from the Sun and toward Jupiter. It arrives at Jupiter on the 4th of July at 9:30 CDT.

The trajectory brings Juno toward Jupiter over the north pole going 160,000 mph (257,000 km/h) . Its rocket will fire for about 35 min to slow it down in order to be captured in a highly eccentric polar orbit. Previous spacecraft have never visited Jupiter in this kind of orbit or this close. What will Juno encounter?

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Pluto | Close-Up Views of Surface Details

New Horizons spacecraft coasted past Pluto on July 14, 2015. Twenty three minutes before closest approach, the spacecraft scanned the surface in high resolution from the northwest to the southeast limbs of Pluto. It gathered about three dozen sharp images each about 50 miles wide (80 km). Mission scientists have arranged those images into the mosaic below stretching more than 1000 miles long.

© 2016 The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

 

The mosaic can be easily viewed with this movie. I suggest you watch full-screen more than once. Stop anytime and when new terrain appears highlighted by text at the left. It runs a bit too fast. You can slow down the speed by clicking the gear icon in the lower right after the movie starts.

 

You can also view the full high-resolution jpg image mosaic in higher quality than the movie by using this link. It is several megabytes so be patient if your connection is slow. It is worth it in my opinion.

Keep in mind the highest quality Hubble images of Pluto prior to this mission did not show much. This is a great age of discovery led by teams such as New Horizons.

Moon’s Far Side | Tycho Crater | Apollo 15

Far Side of the Moon

This image of the Moon is probably not familiar to you. It is the Moon’s far side. Only 24 people have seen it with their own eyes and not as an image. They are the Apollo astronauts. Click on this image for a detailed and closeup view.

farside

NASA | Goddard | Arizona State University

 

Because the moon is tidally locked (meaning the same side always faces Earth), it was not until 1959 that the far side was first imaged by the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft. Russian names are common for prominent far side features, such as Mare Moscoviense. The widespread smooth maria on the nearside that we see do not appear much on the far side. It is a very different world from what we see from Earth.

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