Join Juno's Jupiter Journey with JunoCam!
Image of Jupiter and its four major moons taken bu the JunoCam instrument on June 21, 2016. Jupiter was 6.8 million miles (10.9 million kilometers)  distant when this image was taken.
photo credit: NASA/Juno

 
NASA's sturdy, solar-powered Juno probe has reached its destination: Jupiter. After a five year trip, Juno slipped into its first orbit around the largest planet in our solar system on July 4, 2016, after a 35-minute engine burn to slow it down enough to be captured by Jupiter's gravity. This won't be Juno's final orbit, however; it will take a few more orbits (and months) to finally get Juno in position for its proper science mission: a long, elliptical orbit that takes the probe speedily past Jupiter's poles and far out again over a period of two weeks.  When that orbit is achieved, all of Juno's science instruments will then be turned on.

Juno's primary mission is to measure the mysterious interior of Jupiter up close with its instruments. Its highly elliptical orbit allows it to come very close to Jupiter-skimming just thousands of miles above Jupiter's famed cloud tops- and then quickly speed far away from the most damaging parts of its radiation belt while simultaneously measuring the giant world's powerful magnetic field. Its protection from the charged particles found in Jupiter's radiation belt lie both with the speed which it will zoom through the worst part of the radiation and the 400 pound titanium box containing the probe's sensitive computer system.

JunoCam, the optical camera on Juno, will be turned on a few weeks after the probe achieves its initial orbit around Jupiter-sometime in late August or September.  A recent test of the camera on June 21 showed the instrument is alive and well, and it even sent back an image of Jupiter and its four largest moons from six million miles away.

People from around the world are invited to take part in JunoCam's operations and imaging. As optical imaging of Jupiter is not a primary focus of this mission, NASA invited citizen scientists to help decide where JunoCam will point its cameras and to help process the resulting images. The JunoCam project needs the help of amateur astronomers to submit their images of Jupiter to assist in the analysis and planning of Juno's observations. Participants can vote on where on Jupiter  they would like JunoCam to focus its narrow field of view as these Earth-based observations of Jupiter come in from both amateur and professional astronomers. Hopefully, all of this planning and assistance will  result in breathtaking and detailed views of narrow, scientifically interesting swatches of Jupiter's cloudtops. These views will be unlike any seen by any previous mission, even the long-orbiting Galileo probe from the late 90's.
Image of Earth made from a mosaic of JunoCam images
Earth mosaic as seen by JunoCam on a flyby
Image Credit : Ken Kramer and Marco Di Lorenzo

 You can see how the first trials of JunoCam went as Juno sped past the Earth and Moon for a  slingshot gravity assist to Jupiter on their media site here: https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/media-gallery/junocam 
One very cool thing about that gallery is that you can see how the raw image data is processed and assembled, and you get more information about the types of wavelengths used by JunoCam.

The Night Sky Network recently held a great webinar with Dr. Steven Levin from the Juno Mission. You can watch the video recording, including the Q&A held with members, on our dedicated resource page which links to even more Juno resources. You can also watch the video directly on our YouTube page.

One additional fun item that the Juno team has put out to the public are its outreach videos, especially the "Why with Nye?" series featuring Bill Nye. You can find his fun and engaging demonstrations on the science behind Juno here: https://www.missionjuno.swri.edu/why. You can also watch the series directly on YouTube.

Juno promises to uncover many ancient secrets of the solar system hidden underneath Jupiter's cloud tops, and the help of amateur astronomers from around the world will help to ensure that no stone is left unturned in humanity's quest for knowledge at Jupiter!
 
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