Juno spacecraft makes fifth science pass of Jupiter
NASA’s Juno spacecraft made a close flyby of the planet Jupiter on May 19, successfully completing the probe’s fifth science mission orbit of the gas giant. JunoCam and all of the spacecraft’s science instruments were operating during the flyby. Juno’s next close flyby, which will take it over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, will take place on July 11, 2017.
Juno made its fifth science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops on Friday, May 19, at 2 a.m. EDT (06:00 GMT).
At the time of perijove (the point in Juno’s orbit when it is closest to Jupiter’s center), the spacecraft was about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops and had logged some 63.5 million miles (102 kilometers) in orbit.
Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 551 rocket on August 5, 2011. The spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Juno will remain in its 53-day orbit around Jupiter for the rest of its mission.
During its close approaches of Jupiter, the spacecraft soars as low as low as 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers) over the planet’s cloud tops. Juno uses its science instruments to peer beneath the obscuring clouds of Jupiter and to study its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere, and magnetosphere.
Part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, Juno was constructed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems and is operated by the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located near Pasadena, California. If everything goes as planned, the mission has a planned duration life of about seven years.
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.