NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft has successfully completed its 8th science flyby over Jupiter's mysterious cloud tops, the US space agency said today.
The confirmation of the flyby, which was performed on October 24 was delayed by several days due to solar conjunction at Jupiter that affected communications during the days prior to and after the flyby. Juno's next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on December 16.
Solar conjunction is the period when the path of communication between Earth and Jupiter comes into close proximity with the Sun.
"All the science collected during the flyby was carried in Juno's memory until yesterday, when Jupiter came out of solar conjunction. All science instruments and the spacecraft's JunoCam were operating, and the new data are now being transmitted to Earth and being delivered into the hands of our science team " said Juno project manager, Ed Hirst, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"There is no more exciting place to be than in orbit around Jupiter and no team I would rather be with than the Juno team. Our spacecraft is in great shape, and the team is looking forward to many more flybys of the solar system's largest planet," added Hirst.
Juno launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, last year. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet's cloud tops — as close as about 3,400 kilometres. During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
—with inputs from NASA.