NASA's Juno mission at Jupiter began its seventh close science flyby of the Jovian giant Friday (Sept. 1).
The Juno probe is in an orbit around Jupiter that brings it between the planet's cloud tops and a belt of harsh radiation that encircles the planet. Flying through the radiation belt would destroy the probe's electronics. To maintain this orbit, the probe must swing far out beyond the planet, and dip inside the radiation belt every 53 days. (This is the probe's 8th total flyby of Jupiter; the first one was done without the science instruments turned on.) [Amazing Jupiter Photos by Juno]
During its close passes by Jupiter, Juno's instruments collect information about the planet's mass, magnetic field and water content. This latest flyby began Friday at at 5:49 p.m. EDT (2149 GMT).
The JunoCam instrument also captures images of the planet up close. The raw image files are uploaded to the JunoCam website (usually within a day of the flyby), where citizen scientists are invited to analyze the planet's features, or process the images to create beautiful portraits and even awesome works of art.
NASA's Juno spacecraft launched August 2011 and arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. The $1.1 billion probe is designed to study Jupiter's composition, interior structure and atmosphere through February 2018.
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