For 400 years, astronomers have stared through tiny eye-pieces to admire Jupiter. But now, with the NASA spacecraft Juno in orbit, we’re due some pretty breathtaking images of the largest planet in our solar system.
When it first approached Jupiter, it teased us with a video of how the moons around the planet move.
Yesterday (July 12), the first image from Juno after its amazing entry into the planet’s orbit was uploaded. And it is apt the image from the spacecraft, which is named after the Roman god Jupiter’s wife, is that of his mistresses—the moons Io, Europa, and Ganymede.
As luck would have it, you can also see Jupiter’s giant red spot in the image. When Juno gets to its closest approach to Jupiter, it will try to peer through the clouds to reveal what drives the red spot, which is akin to a giant hurricane on Earth.
You’d be right to suspect that this image seems to be taken from quite far away. In its first orbit around Jupiter, the spacecraft is in a highly oblong orbit that takes 51 days to complete. That means the next set of close up images will be uploaded after Aug. 27.
After orbiting twice, scientists on Earth will program Juno to fire its engines and enter a tighter orbit that will take only 14 days to complete. So you can expect your fix of Jupiter images at a higher frequency towards the end of this year.