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Juno Mission Studying Jupiter

The NASA Juno spacecraft took-off in August 2011 and in early July 2016 started orbiting Jupiter. An important objective of the mission is to enhance our comprehension of Jupiter. It was to study Jupiter’s atmospheric properties, so that we can understand the formation of Jupiter and other planets in the outer Solar System.

Two of Juno’s instruments viz., Subaru's mid-infrared imaging and COMICS’s (Cooled Mid-Infrared Camera and Spectrometer) high-resolution thermal imaging are particularly useful. These have provided information regarding Jupiter’s temperature field and the distribution of ammonia in the planet (ammonia is a condensate in Jupiter just like water in the earth's atmosphere). These data are enhancing and extending our information regarding the planet’s deep atmospheric structure, its magnetosphere and its auroral interactions.

Till now Juno has made five close-up passes of Jupiter's atmosphere. The first one was on 27 August 2016 and the latest was on 19 May 2017. Every close-pass has provided unexpected surprises to Juno's science team, and a coordinated campaign of earth-based support has benefited the Juno mission. This campaign includes ground-based observations covering near-infrared through radio wavelengths; and spacecraft observations from orbiting or near the Earth, covering visible wavelengths through X-ray. 


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