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Juno First Orbit (And Closest Fly-By) Complete and Successful

Juno First Orbit Officially Complete and Successful

Juno First Orbit Jupiter Picture

JunoCam captures first image of Jupiter. The gas giant in a crescent shape, North pole exposed.
Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has officially completed its first orbit around Jupiter. Successfully, no less. During this inaugural orbit, the craft also made what will be its closest approach of the mission, coming within 2,600 miles of the gas giant. In Earth terms, that is a large distance, approximately the same as the width of the U.S. But, in astronomical terms, this is point-blank. After all, New Horizons stunned the world when it came within 7,000 miles of Pluto.

All instruments safe after Juno first orbit

Perhaps most significantly, Juno completed an entire orbit with all science instruments still fully functioning. This orbit included perijove, which is when an orbiting object passes closest to Jupiter’s center. This central (or, equatorial) region is beaming with powerful and lethal radiation. Among the mission’s largest concerns was radiation damaging the fragile instruments onboard. So, to orbit this region with all instruments remaining in working condition is a truly crucial milestone for the mission.

JunoCam Previews of What’s to Come

Juno Mission Instruments JunoCam

Among Juno’s nine science instruments, JunoCam is equipped for the “wow factor.” It is this high-tech camera that will take and deliver the undoubtedly stunning images that will hit every publication and news network in the country. Though NASA says the first full-on images will be delivered in upcoming weeks, they did release a single initial picture (above).

Inevitably, the forthcoming images will be sure to blow the world’s minds. Yet, we must pause for a moment to celebrate this image. A rare close-up image of our solar system’s biggest planet exposing its mysterious north pole. Plus, if this picture is “raw” in JunoCam’s world, our anticipation is palpable, and we are in for out-of-this-world treats in the coming weeks.