NASA’s Juno spacecraft whizzes closely by Jupiter
The National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Juno space probe whizzed closely by Jupiter on Monday (March 27th) in its fifth flyby of the gas giant, the American space agency announced.
NASA said in a statement that its Juno spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter at 4:52 a.m. EDT or 0852 GMT, hovering just 2,700 miles above the gas giant, while traveling at a sped of around 129,000 mph or 208,000 km per hour.
All of Juno’s eight science instruments were up and running, collecting data about the planet’s atmosphere, electromagnetic fields and gravity.
Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno, said, “This will be our fourth science pass — the fifth close flyby of Jupiter of the mission — and we are excited to see what new discoveries Juno will reveal. Every time we get near Jupiter’s cloud tops, we learn new insights that help us understand this amazing giant planet.”
NASA originally planned to bring the spacecraft into a closer orbit around the gas giant to allow it to circle the planet in just 14 days, but a glitch with its two helium valves forced scientists to scrap those plans.
Juno arrived in Jupiter’s orbit on 4th of July last year, after a five-year journey through deep space. Since then, it has made a number of discoveries regarding the planet’s composition, atmosphere as well as its superb auroras and magnetic fields.