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11 IMAGES

Jupiter, from south to north

This sequence of color-enhanced images shows how quickly the viewing geometr changes for NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it swoops by Jupiter. The images were obtained by JunoCam.

Once every 53 days, Juno swings close to Jupiter, speeding over its clouds. In just two hours, the spacecraft travels from a perch over Jupiter’s north pole through its closest approach (perijove), then passes over the south pole on its way back out. This sequence shows 11 color-enhanced images from Perijove 8 (Sept. 1, 2017) with the south pole on the left (11th image in the sequence) and the north pole on the right (first image in the sequence).

 

The first image on the right shows a half-lit globe of Jupiter, with the north pole approximately at the upper center of the image close to the terminator - the dividing line between night and day. As the spacecraft gets closer to Jupiter, the horizon moves in and the range of visible latitudes shrinks.

 

The second and third images in this sequence show the north polar region rotating away from the spacecraft's field of view while the first of Jupiter's lighter-colored bands comes into view. The fourth through the eighth images display a blue-colored vortex in the mid-southern latitudes near Points of Interest "Collision of Colours," "Sharp Edge," "Caltech, by Halka," and "Structure01."

 

The Points of Interest are locations in Jupiter’s atmosphere that were identified and named by members of the general public. Additionally, a darker, dynamic band can be seen just south of the vortex. In the ninth and tenth images, the south polar region rotates into view. The final image on the left displays Jupiter's south pole in the center.

 

The probe's journey began just over five years ago, on 5 August 2011, and it arrived at its destination, Jupiter's orbit, on 4 July this year (in Italy, it was at dawn on the following day) after travelling a distance of approximately three billion kilometres. 


JUNO's goal is to analyse the Jupiter’s characteristics as representative of the giant planets. The Solar System’s ‘heavyweight’ can, in fact, offer fundamentally important data not only for gaining deeper knowledge of the origin of the System itself, but also for analysing those of the planetary systems that are gradually discovered around other stars, with particular reference to those exoplanets that have a similar mass to that of Jupiter. 

JUNO's heart is the Italian JIRAM (Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper), financed by ASI, built by Leonardo-Finmeccanica and operated under the scientific responsibility of INAF's Institute of Astrophysics and Planetology (IAPS). 

JUNO's other Italian component is KaT (Ka-Band Translator), a radio science instrument designed by the 'La Sapienza' University of Rome, built by Thales Alenia Space Italia (A Thales/Leonardo-Finmeccanica company) again with ASI's support.