Juno skims past Jupiter with science tools switched on


One flyby down, 35 to go.


Click to enlarge.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS

On Sunday, NASA's Juno probe made its first flyby of the gas giant Jupiter with its suite of scientific instruments on.

The time of closest approach was 1:44pm UTC, when the probe passed just 4,200 kilometres above Jupiter's swirling clouds.

While some data has been sent back to Earth already, says Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, "it will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us".

One piece of data is the photo, right, snapped by the probe from more than 700,000 kilometres away as it approached the gas giant's north pole.

And more photos will be released over the coming weeks.

JunoCam, the high-resolution camera mounted on the probe, snapped images of the stormy Jovian weather and its polar regions during the flyby.

"We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world," Bolton says.

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