Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill earlier this year created a beautifully cinematic video (above) of Jupiter. NASA was so impressed by the production that it recently gave it some deserved recognition by posting the video directly on its website.
Gill created the stunning five-minute sequence using images captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft in June 2020. It offers a good idea of what you would’ve seen had you been aboard Juno during one of its many flybys of the gas giant.
The video actually combines 41 images from the spacecraft’s JunoCam instrument, digitally projected onto a sphere, with a virtual camera offering views of Jupiter from different angles as the spacecraft flies by, NASA said.
It added: “During the closest approach of this pass, the Juno spacecraft came within approximately 2,100 miles (3,400 km) of Jupiter’s cloud tops. At that point, Jupiter’s powerful gravity accelerated the spacecraft to tremendous speed — about 130,000 mph (209,000 kph) relative to the planet.”
With its moody soundtrack and gorgeous imagery, the video offers a unique, close-up look at Jupiter, a planet 11 times larger than Earth that’s currently about 472 million miles (760 million km) away.
The Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2011. It reached the largest planet in our solar system five years later in 2016, at which time it set to work gathering data.
Packed with a plethora of scientific instruments, the spacecraft is still busy exploring Jupiter. As recently as August it came across some unexpected happenings in Jupiter’s atmosphere, including odd lightning events and so-called “mushballs,” described as a kind of slushy hail comprising ammonia and water.
Mission objectives include learning about how much water is contained within Jupiter’s atmosphere, mapping the planet’s magnetic and gravity fields to reveal Jupiter’s deep structure, exploring its magnetosphere near the planet’s poles to gain new insights on how the Jupiter’s powerful magnetic force field influences its atmosphere, and imaging Jupiter’s largest moon.
While the Juno mission was originally expected to run until 2018, NASA decided to extend operations until July 2021. At that point, the spacecraft will undertake a controlled deorbit before disintegrating in Jupiter’s atmosphere, bringing to a close a groundbreaking scientific mission.
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