Pasadena, CA – NASA has released the first photos sent by its Juno spacecraft, which arrived at Jupiter on Saturday.
The said photos were taken by the spacecraft at its time of arrival at Jupiter, but the space association released them to the public just yesterday.
Furthermore, despite the spacecraft being three million miles away from Jupiter, the planet’s Great Red Spot, which is a centuries-old atmospheric storm, and three of its four largest moons were visible.
Juno managed to enter Jupiter’s orbit last week, dispelling fears of high-speed impact with debris in the planet’s tenuous ring, or potential radiation damage.
The spacecraft shut down its primary engine for thirty-five minutes straight, thus adequately slowing down before entering the planned polar orbit.
“NASA did it again! That says it all to me,” Juno’s principal investigator, Scott Bolton, mentioned at a press conference, which took place after the good news came in. “And I am so happy to be part of the team that did that. This team has worked so hard, and we have just such great people. It’s almost like a dream coming true right here. … And now the fun begins. The science!”
Furthermore, due to Jupiter’s massive distance from Earth, 540 million miles, NASA’s flight controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were not able to follow the spacecraft’s location and status at real time, as they had to wait forty-five minutes for radio signals to cross the space in between the two planets.
By the time they received the last update, Juno had already entered the designated orbit.
It took the spacecraft five years to reach its destination, while it will be staying on the planet for a twenty-month mission, during which Juno will be studying various aspects of the planet, including its atmosphere, interior and poles.
NASA’s department in charge of the mission stated that close-up photos of Jupiter are expected to come in their hands sometime next month.
Via: Science Daily