A stunning new animation places you aboard NASA’s robotic Juno spacecraft throughout its epic flybys final month of Jupiter and the massive moon Ganymede.
On June 7, Juno zoomed inside simply 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) of Ganymede, the biggest moon within the solar system. It was the closest a probe had gotten to the icy, closely cratered world since May 2000, when NASA’s Galileo spacecraft flew by at a distance of about 620 miles (1,000 km).
Then, on June 8, Juno carried out its thirty fourth shut flyby of Jupiter, zipping from pole to pole in lower than three hours and getting inside a mere 2,100 miles (3,400 km) of the large planet’s roiling cloud tops. At that time, Jupiter’s highly effective gravity had accelerated Juno to about 130,000 mph (210,000 kph) relative to the gas giant, NASA officers mentioned.
In pictures: Juno’s amazing views of Jupiter
The probe captured wonderful pictures throughout these back-to-back encounters, as the brand new, practically four-minute video makes abundantly clear. It places viewers in Juno’s imaginary captain’s seat, taking us all alongside for the trip.
“The animation shows just how beautiful deep space exploration can be,” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement.
“The animation is a way for people to imagine exploring our solar system firsthand by seeing what it would be like to be orbiting Jupiter and flying past one of its icy moons,” Bolton added. “Today, as we approach the exciting prospect of humans being able to visit space in orbit around Earth, this propels our imagination decades into the future, when humans will be visiting the alien worlds in our solar system.”
The Juno group made the time-lapse animation utilizing imagery captured by the probe’s JunoCam imager. They obtained some assist from citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt, who generated the digicam’s perspective for the video.
“For both worlds, the JunoCam images were orthographically projected onto a digital sphere, and then synthetic frames were added between actual images to make the motion appear smoother and provide views of approach and departure for both Ganymede and Jupiter,” NASA officers wrote in the identical assertion.
There are just a few different artificial touches within the animation. For instance, the group inserted simulated lightning in Jupiter’s clouds, utilizing actual Juno knowledge to make the flashes as life like as potential.
Juno launched in August 2011 and arrived in orbit round Jupiter in July 2016. Since then, the probe has been learning the large planet’s composition, inside construction and gravitational and magnetic fields, in an try and make clear the formation and evolution of Jupiter and the solar system generally. It additionally research Jovian moons up shut sometimes, because the Ganymede flyby reveals.
Juno gathers most of its knowledge throughout its shut Jupiter flybys, which have usually occurred each 53 Earth days. The Ganymede shut encounter modified that cadence, nonetheless: The 3,273-mile-wide (5,268 km) moon’s gravity has sculpted Juno’s extremely elliptical orbit such that Jupiter flybys will now happen each 43 Earth days. The subsequent one will happen on July 21, NASA officers mentioned.
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.