NASA Juno spacecraft successfully completes fifth Jupiter flyby; JunoCam captures swirling storms

Juno spacecraft set for fifth Jupiter flyby

NASA's $1 billion Juno spacecraft, launched in August 2011, took five years to reach and settle into orbit around the gas giant, which is located more than 415 million miles from Earth.

Following such an event, but also in general, Juno beamed back several data on Jupiter.

On Monday, NASA revealed some incredible new images of Jupiter as they were captured by Juno.

Juno spaceship traveled inside the radiation belts of the giant planet six times now, including July 4th when Juno made it arrival maneuver, powering its main engine to enter Jupiter's orbit.

ABOVE IMAGE: Juno acquired this JunoCam image on February 2, 2017 at an altitude of 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) above the giant planet's cloud tops.

During these flybys, Juno probes beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

According to NASA, all the science instruments of Juno and the JunoCam were functional when the flyby took place. The JunoCam atop the NASA Juno spacecraft has meanwhile, clicked close-up pictures of the planet.

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This enhanced-color image of a mysterious dark spot on Jupiter seems to reveal a Jovian "galaxy" of swirling storms.

The science instruments of NASA Juno spacecraft collected data about the atmosphere, gravity and electromagnetic fields of Jupiter. These offered a new look at Jupiter and were captured by Juno.

NASA originally planned to bring the spacecraft into a closer orbit around the gas giant to allow it to circle the planet in just 14 days, but a glitch with its two helium valves forced scientists to scrap those plans.

The NASA Juno Mission will come to an end in February 2018 when the probe will plunge into Jupiter and will intentionally crash-land after 20 months in orbit.

One such instance occurred recently when Juno captured an fantastic image of Jupiter and within that image a citizen scientist named Roman Tkachenko spotted a "Dark Spot" on Jupiter after he enhanced the images using his skills. Exactly what internal processes drive these storms is something the Juno mission team hopes to discover in the months ahead.

"I think that's going to be a huge step", Green said.

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