Juno spacecraft to provide first close-up look at Jupiter

Juno, the spacecraft on a mission to Jupiter, is due to make an unprecedented close approach to the giant gas planet today. Mission controllers at NASA said the robotic explorer will have all its nine scientific instruments activated when it flies 2,500 miles above Jupiter’s swirling cloud tops at around 130,000mph.

This is the first time we will be close to Jupiter since we entered orbit on July 4. Back then we turned all our instruments off to focus on the rocket burn to get Juno into orbit around Jupiter.

Principal investigator Dr Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, US

It is hoped the explorer will capture some stunning images from JunoCam, the probe’s panoramic colour camera, and a wealth of scientific data from today’s approach.They should include the first detailed pictures of Jupiter’s north and south poles, but it will take some days for the images and information gathered by Juno to be downloaded on Earth. In total, 35 more close flybys are planned during Juno’s primary mission, scheduled to end in February 2018. No previous spacecraft has flown so near to Jupiter before.