Juno mission returns first image of Jupiter and its famous Great Red Spot since going into orbit

The US space agency's Juno space mission to solve the mystery of what lies beneath the swirling storm clouds of Jupiter has sent back its first imagery since going into orbit. Nasa on Tuesday released a picture taken by the spacecraft of the huge gas giant, showing a sunlit section of the planet along with three of its moons - Io, Europa and Ganymede. The fourth major satellite - Callisto - is not visible. The image was taken on Saturday when the Juno spacecraft was circling three million miles away. Even at that distance, Jupiter's Great Red Spot - the colossal storm that has raged on the planet for hundreds of years - was clearly visible. Juno entered orbit around Jupiter last week after a five-year journey. It is on a 20-month mission to map the giant planet's poles, atmosphere and interior. During the approach, the camera and instruments were powered off as a precaution as Juno braved intense radiation. The instruments were turned back on several days after the arrival and scientists will be relieved that "JunoCam" is working despite the harsh environment. Juno is now moving away from Jupiter on a large arc, but will sweep back in during August, enabling the camera to take event better close-up images.

July 18, 2016

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