After a five-year journey, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has officially entered Jupiter’s orbit, where it will capture in incredible detail the surface and atmosphere of the fifth planet from the sun.
To document the monumental arrival, the 8,000 pound spacecraft captured a series of photographs that have been turned into an ethereal time lapse showing Jupiter’s moons in orbit around the largest planet in our solar system.
The video comes in at three minutes long, but the time lapse doesn’t start until about 30 seconds in, and stops about 30 seconds before the end of the clip.
In it, we catch a glimpse of four of Jupiter’s moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto — in order from closest to furthest away — as they playfully orbit around the gas giant. The first frame in the time lapse was captured from a distance of roughly 10 million miles on June 12, 2016. The final still captured was taken 27 days, later when Juno was approximately 3 million miles away.
“Galileo observed these moons to change position with respect to Jupiter over the course of a few nights,” NASA said in the video’s description, adding, “From this observation he realized that the moons were orbiting mighty Jupiter, a truth that forever changed humanity’s understanding of our place in the cosmos.”
Juno has already given us an incredible glimpse of Jupiter, but its mission has only just begun. According to NASA’s timeline, Juno will orbit around Jupiter 37 times over the course of the next two years, starting in October. During this time, we can expect plenty of photographs to be shared and much data to be gathered.