On July 4, NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter after carrying out a picture-perfect orbital insertion maneuver, burning its rockets to shave-off some speed as it zoomed deeper into the gas giant's gravitational well. But a few days before all the drama on Monday unfolded, Juno was keeping a close eye on its final destination.
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In this stunning time-lapse, from June 12 (when Juno was 10 million miles from Jupiter) to June 29 (at 3 million miles), Juno could easily see a crescent Jupiter, plus the bright points of light of the Galilean satellites. Volcanic Io is the innermost moon, followed by Europa and then Ganymede and Callisto pops into view later in the video in the top right.
During the Jupiter orbital insertion, mission managers powered down Juno's instrumentation to protect them from the surge in radiation as the spacecraft dived deep into the Jovian system, so no images of close approach were possible as the cameras were turned off.
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However, over the coming weeks, the new, human-made satellite of Jupiter will undergo commissioning, preparing it for science operations in October. So this video is the first tantalizing look at the gas giant from afar; the next photographs of Jupiter will be much, much closer.
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