In 2011 NASA launched spacecraft the size of a basketball court named Juno. On July 4, 2016, US$1.1 billion worth probe has arrived at the Jupiter. It took five years to pass more than 415 million miles to enter into Jupiter’s orbit. The ultimate goal of this space travel is understanding of Jupiter’s origin and evolution. It’s on a 20-month mission to map the poles, atmosphere, and interior of our solar system’s largest planet. Among other things, Juno should reveal what lies beneath the clouds and the chemical composition of the planet.

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Juno Took First Ever Pictures Of The Planet’s Poles

Equipped with wide-angle camera JunoCam designed to capture the unique polar perspective of Jupiter, the probe has sent us very first images of the poles. As Jupiter’s poles can’t be seen from Earth’s perspective, this is our first glimpse at them.

North pole of Jupiter from NASA’s Juno probe. Image credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Roman Tkachenko

Beside poles, Juno captured atmospheric storms known as the string of pearls. Of course, the most famous and the biggest is Great Red Spot.

Close-up view of Jupiter’s swirling cloud tops. Image credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Daiwensai-33

Naturally, these images are not the original RAW images Juno is sending back. There are a lot of pictures waiting for reconstruction and adjustment. However, NASA released some of the unenhanced images on their website and invited the public to add their own color.

Jupiter’s south pole. Image credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Gervasio Robles
Image credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS

Juno so far captured clouds, poles for the first time and recorded strange auroras. Thanks to Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper instrument, probe managed to capture Jupiter’s glow in infrared light ( animation below ).

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We have never been so close to the Jupiter. As probe has an elliptical orbit, next flyby over gaseous giant will be around May 19. It will stay in its longer orbit until next year when it will be deliberately sent into Jupiter’s atmosphere. The point of no return will be the entrance into Jupiter’s liquid interior.

Image credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS