FIVE THINGS ABOUT THE JUNO PROBE

National Post (National Edition) - - NAVIGATOR - Joseph Brean, Na­tional Post

1 THE POLES

Jupiter is a gas gi­ant, 1,000 times the size of Earth, and its or­bit means its equa­to­rial re­gions are vis­i­ble by tele­scope from Earth, but its poles can­not be seen. You just have to go there, as the Pi­o­neer 11 space­craft did in 1974. But Juno has far bet­ter cam­eras. It launched from Florida in 2011 and ar­rived in its or­bit last sum­mer, an el­lip­ti­cal cir­cuit that brings it close to the planet once ev­ery 53 days.

2 POW­ER­FUL STORMS

Some of the most ex­cit­ing im­ages are of the at­mo­spheric storms known as the string of pearls. These eight storms are each smaller than the Great Red Spot, a gi­ant storm that has been ro­tat­ing for at least 150 years, but they seem to be more dy­namic. Over the last 30 years, their num­ber has var­ied from as few as six to as many as nine.

3 MORE THAN JUST WEATHER

Juno — named for the myth­i­cal daugh­ter of Saturn, con­sort of Jupiter, and mother of Mars — has eight sci­en­tific in­stru­ments to col­lect data about Jupiter’s grav­ity, at­mos­phere and elec­tro­mag­netic fields and ra­di­a­tion, with a fo­cus on the glow­ing au­ro­ras.

4 TROU­BLE ALOFT

The space­craft’s or­bit was sup­posed to be brought much closer by a planned en­gine burn in Oc­to­ber, but a prob­lem with valves meant those plans were scrapped. It will stay in its longer or­bit un­til next year, when it will be sent hurtling into Jupiter’s at­mos­phere of hy­dro­gen and he­lium, and then into its liq­uid in­te­rior, never to re­turn.

5 RECONSTRUCTED ON EARTH

Most im­ages from satel­lites are not ready for pub­li­ca­tion. Their colour and con­trast needs to be reconstructed, ad­justed and en­hanced. NASA has posted the raw im­ages from its JunoCam on the In­ter­net, and in­vited the pub­lic to add their own colour en­hance­ments, or crop them to high­light a par­tic­u­lar feature of the at­mos­phere.

NASA

A photo of Jupiter from NASA’s Juno probe, which was launched in 2011 and ar­rived in the planet’s or­bit last sum­mer.

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