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ELEVENTH FLYBY

Time-lapse sequence of Jupiter

This series of images captures cloud patterns near Jupiter's south pole, looking up towards the planet’s equator. 

NASA’s Juno spacecraft took the color-enhanced time-lapse sequence of images during its eleventh close flyby of the gas giant planet on Feb. 7 between 10:21 a.m. and 11:01 a.m. EST. At the time, the spacecraft was between 137,264 to 200,937 kilometers from the tops of the clouds of the planet with the images centered on latitudes from 84.1 to 75.5 degrees south.

 

At first glance, the series might appear to be the same image repeated. But closer inspection reveals slight changes, which are most easily noticed by comparing the far left image with the far right image.Directly, the images show Jupiter. But, through slight variations in the images, they indirectly capture the motion of the Juno spacecraft itself, once again swinging around a giant planet hundreds of millions of miles from Earth. Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt processed this image using data from the JunoCam imager.

 

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.