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We Are About To Witness Jupiter's Poles For The First Time Ever

Juno flying over Jupiter.

Get ready for the next year or so, because you are going to
be hearing a lot more new stuff about Jupiter. NASA’s Juno spacecraft will do
its first science flyby of the gas giant. And in the process, Juno will sight
its poles like never before.

Juno entered the orbit around Jupiter in this July. It is
the first spacecraft to do so since NASA’s Galileo in year 1995. To keep itself
harmless from Jupiter’s radiation, though, Juno is in a wide extensive orbit
around the planet. At it is furthest; it is up to 3 million km (2 million miles)
away. Two days ago, it has flied just 4,200 km (2,500 miles) above the
clouds of Jupiter. It is the closest approach to Jupiter so far. When Juno first entered the orbit, its eight science equipments
were shut down. But this time around, all eight equipments will be on, as well
as JunoCam. This camera will take high-resolution images of Jupiter and, for
the first time, will get complete images of Jupiter’s north and south poles. We
have already seen Jupiter’s polar region before, thanks to the Cassini
spacecraft, but those sights were somewhat obscured because Cassini observed
the pole from an angle.

Steve Levin, Juno project researcher from NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,said in a statement"No other spacecraft has ever orbited
Jupiter this closely, or over the poles in this fashion. This is our first opportunity
and there are bound to be surprises. We need to take our time to make sure our
conclusions are correct."

The flyby is taken place around 8.51am EDT (1.51pm BST) this
Saturday, although images will not be sent home straight away. A NASA spokesman
told IFLScience we could expect the first images to be on the loose on
Thursday, September 1. This is the first of 36 flybys of Jupiter scheduled for Juno
up till the end of its mission in February 2018, and it is just the foundation
for some of the interesting science we can imagine from Jupiter.

Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the
Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, US, said in the statement "This
is our first opportunity to really take a close-up look at the king of our
solar system and begin to figure out how he works."

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