Did I mention NASA’s Juno mission yesterday? Well, it looks like mind-blowing images are already starting to arrive from Jupiter.
The camera aboard the Juno spacecraft has sent its first images after its July 4 arrival, NASA announced yesterday. The visible-light camera switched on six days after the craft fired its main engine and propelled itself into orbit around the gas giant.
Pretty impressive, I’d say. Especially considering high-resolution images of Jupiter are still a few weeks away, according to NASA. Those start arriving August 27.
The shot above was taken June 10, when Juno was still 2.7 million miles from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5-day orbit. It shows the Jovian planet’s atmospheric features, including its eye-like Great Red Spot. You can see three of the planet’s four largest moons — Io, Europa and Ganymede, from left to right.
During its mission, Juno will circle Jupiter 37 times, doing flybys of the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,600 miles. Sounds there’s plenty of wonder yet to come.
When I was a kid, the mystery of Saturn’s vast rings had me in their sway. I did a number of school projects on our solar system’s second-largest planet and even attempted to draw a comic book chronicling the adventures of its alien inhabitants.
The recent photos coming back from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have helped rekindle that fascination (although I’ve long since given up any aspirations of being a comic artist). Yep, those vast rings still hold plenty of mystery.
Take, for example, this photo Cassini snapped of three of Saturn’s moons — Tethys, Enceladus and Mimas — straddling the rings.
In this configuration, Tethys (660 miles across) appears above the rings, while Enceladus (313 miles across) is just below at the center and Mimas (246 miles across) is located to its left.
For those keeping track of such things, the craft acquired the shot at a distance of 837,000 miles from Enceladus. Tethys was 1.2 million miles away and Mimas was approximately 1.1 million miles away.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.
NASA has uploaded its first batch of ultra-high definition videos, including a beautiful and hellish close-up video of the sun’s surface.
The video was assembled from data collected by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which orbits Sol and captures images across 10 wavelengths of invisible ultraviolet light. Each wavelength represents a different temperature of solar material.
The images allow NASA scientists to examine solar activity, such as solar flares and streams of electrified plasma called coronal loops. For lay folks like myself, they provide one mind-bending light show.