Spaceflight Insider

NASA’s Juno spacecraft to make closest approach of Jupiter August 27

This dual view of Jupiter was taken on August 23, when NASA's Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit.

This dual view of Jupiter was taken on August 23 when NASA’s Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA’s Juno spacecraft will get closer to the cloud tops of Jupiter than at any other time during its primary mission on Saturday, August 27, at 5:51 a.m. PDT (8:51 a.m. EDT; 12:51 GMT). Juno will be about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above the giant planet’s swirling clouds at the moment of closest approach and traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 km/h) with respect to Jupiter.

NASA's Juno spacecraft in orbit above the gas giant Jupiter.

Image Credit: James Vaughan / SpaceFlight Insider

Juno will make 35 more flybys of Jupiter before the spacecraft’s prime mission ends in February 2018.

The August 27 flyby will be the first time that Juno will make a close approach of Jupiter with all of its scientific instruments turned on and looking at the giant planet.

“This is the first time we will be close to Jupiter since we entered orbit on July 4,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio via a release. “Back then, we turned all our instruments off to focus on the rocket burn to get Juno into orbit around Jupiter. Since then, we have checked Juno from stem to stern and back again. We still have more testing to do, but we are confident that everything is working great, so for this upcoming flyby, Juno’s eyes and ears, our science instruments, will all be open.”

While the scientific data from the close approach should be down-linked to Earth within days via NASA’s Deep Space Network, interpretations and the earliest results are not expected for some time.

“No other spacecraft has ever orbited Jupiter this closely, or over the poles in this fashion,” said Steve Levin, Juno project scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “This is our first opportunity and there are bound to be surprises. We need to take our time to make sure our conclusions are correct.”

In addition to Juno’s suite of eight scientific instruments, JunoCam, the spacecraft’s visible light imager, will be at work snapping close-ups. A few of the JunoCam images, including the highest resolution imagery of Jupiter’s atmosphere and the first views of the planet’s north and south poles, are expected to be released in the later part of next week.

“This is our first opportunity to really take a close-up look at the king of our solar system and begin to figure out how he works,” Bolton said.

Over the next couple of months, Juno’s science and mission teams will perform testing and calibrations on the spacecraft’s subsystems and scientific instruments while collecting preliminary data. Juno will begin making 14-day science orbits following the final burn of the spacecraft’s main engine on October 19.

This artist's rendering shows NASA's Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter.

This artist’s rendering shows NASA’s Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise. While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004. Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.

Reader Comments

What about the high resolution pictures from the top clouds? Something went wrong?

Sept. 14, 2016

Hi Juliano,
Please review our article on the subject: NASA’s Juno spacecraft captures images of Jupiter’s poles
Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, SpaceFlight Insider

Jason, thanks for the answer, but I may had expressed myself badly… i want to know if Juno taked pictures in the equatorial region, and if not, what went wrong?

Hi Juliano,
As far as we know, everything with Juno has been totally successful. Let us look into it for you and get back to you.
Sincerely, Jason Rhian – Editor, SpaceFlight Insider

I’ll be waiting! Thanks a lot, Jason!

Hi Juliano, DC Agle at NASA / JPL provided us with the following: We did take pictures in the equatorial region. They are posted on missionjuno website –

A little less exiting than I thought it would be… But thank you a lot, Jason!

⚠ Commenting Rules

Post Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *