#NASA #Jupiter #JunoOrbiter #spacecraft #space #exploration #SolarSystem
NASA’s Juno spacecraft sailed over Jupiter’s cloud tops early Monday, the fourth time the solar-powered probe has approached the giant planet and collected science data since its arrival last July 4.
At the present trajectory, the Juno orbiter arcs out to a distance of several million miles from Jupiter and then comes back for a high-speed encounter. This happens once every 53 and a half days. During the flyby, Juno passes about 4,400 kilometers over Jupiter’s cloud tops at a speed of 57.8 kilometers per second.
According to NASA, all of Juno’s science instruments are working fine currently. Although engineers detected problems with check valves inside the propellant pressurization system in October, thus avoiding that particular propulsion system in any future use.
Juno’s primary mission is to study Jupiter’s intense magnetic field and investigate the gas giant’s deep interior structure, revealing insights about its atmosphere and probing for a rocky core. After February 2018, the ground controllers are planning to intentionally crash the spacecraft into Jupiter’s atmosphere, avoiding the possibility of contaminating one of Jupiter’s potentially habitable moons.