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Juno Snaps Dazzling Images As It Prepares to Jump Jupiter's Shadow

NASA's Juno spacecraft is preparing to jump Jupiter's shadow to preserve itself.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI)

While readying itself to jump Jupiter's shadow, NASA's Juno spacecraft continues to capture the beauty of our distant, gaseous neighbor

Juno launched in 2011 with the explicit purpose of imaging and collecting data on Jupiter so that scientists back on Earth could better piece together its evolution and origins. The probe has been traveling around the planet at about 384 miles per hour (618 kilometers/h) since it arrived and completed orbit insertion in 2016, and will continue to do so until it deorbits towards Jupiter in July 2021. 

Of the many instruments onboard the craft, the JunoCam camera is the favorite of many who follow the mission. The camera/telescope has captured seemingly endless images of Jupiter's swirling beauty. 

Related: Jupiter's Great Red Spot in Pictures

Below, you can check out images that Juno has captured, including Jovian jet streams, Jupiter's Great Red Spot, swirling clouds and more:

Image 1 of 5

In this image of Jupiter, you can see a jet stream region on the planet's upper hemisphere known as "Jet N3." The region is rich with colorful, swirling patterns. This image was created by citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt from a raw image taken on May 29, 2019.

In this image of Jupiter, you can see a jet stream region on the planet's upper hemisphere known as "Jet N3." The region is rich with colorful, swirling patterns. This image was created by citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt from a raw image taken on May 29, 2019.
(Image credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Gerald Eichstädt)
Image 2 of 5

A dark-centered vortex in a jet stream on Jupiter can be seen alongside high-altitude clouds in this Juno image. This color-enhanced image was originally taken on May 29, 2019 and has since been finalized and named by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran.

A dark-centered vortex in a jet stream on Jupiter can be seen alongside high-altitude clouds in this Juno image. This color-enhanced image was originally taken on May 29, 2019 and has since been finalized and named by citizen scientists Gerald Eichstädt and Seán Doran.
(Image credit: Enhanced Image by Gerald Eichstädt and Sean Doran (CC BY-NC-SA) based on images provided Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)
Image 3 of 5

This image showcases the contrast between the colorful South Equatorial Belt and the white Southern Tropical Zone on Jupiter. In this white region you can also easily spot the Great Red Spot. This image was created by citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill from a raw image taken on July 20, 2019.

This image showcases the contrast between the colorful South Equatorial Belt and the white Southern Tropical Zone on Jupiter. In this white region you can also easily spot the Great Red Spot. This image was created by citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill from a raw image taken on July 20, 2019.
(Image credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Kevin M. Gill, licensed under CC by 3.0)
Image 4 of 5

This enhanced-color image of swirling clouds in the region of Jupiter's northern hemisphere known as “Jet N4," was created by citizen scientist Björn Jónsson. The raw, initial image was taken on Sept. 11, 2019.

This enhanced-color image of swirling clouds in the region of Jupiter's northern hemisphere known as “Jet N4," was created by citizen scientist Björn Jónsson. The raw, initial image was taken on Sept. 11, 2019.
(Image credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing by Björn Jónsson, © CC NC SA 3.0)
Image 5 of 5

A montage of images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot created from images taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft from July 2017 to July 2019. The montage includes five map-projected mosaics which show how the storm and nearby areas have changed over time.

A montage of images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot created from images taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft from July 2017 to July 2019. The montage includes five map-projected mosaics which show how the storm and nearby areas have changed over time.
(Image credit: Image data: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS Image processing by Björn Jónsson, © CC NC SA 3.0)


While Juno is collecting data and snapping stunning shots of Jupiter, it is also working hard to remain optimally functional in orbit. On Oct. 1, Juno completed a tricky maneuver that will likely keep the instrument from an early demise and allow it to continue to capture stunning imagery of Jupiter.

During the maneuver, which lasted an extraordinary 10.5 hours (five times longer than any other maneuver using the same system), the craft executed a long burn with its reaction-control thrusters. Using up about 160 pounds (73 kg) of fuel, the craft drastically shifted its orbital velocity by 126 mph (203 km/h). 

With the extended burn and orbital shift, Juno is preparing to essentially "jump" across Jupiter's shadow. Because the craft's batteries are solar-powered (and would not be able to charge while in the shadow), the 12 hours that it would have otherwise taken the craft to cross the shadow would have entirely drained its batteries. With no battery life and in the cold of the shadow, it's likely that the craft never would have woken up, according to a NASA statement

"With the success of this burn, we are on track to jump the shadow on Nov. 3," Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in the same statement. "Jumping over the shadow was an amazingly creative solution to what seemed like a fatal geometry. Eclipses are generally not friends of solar-powered spacecraft. Now instead of worrying about freezing to death, I am looking forward to the next science discovery that Jupiter has in store for Juno."

Follow Chelsea Gohd on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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