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First photo from Junos Jupiter orbit released

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has sent its first in-orbit view. Juno’s visible-light camera was turned on six days after Juno fired its main engine and placed itself into orbit around the largest planetary inhabitant of our solar system.

The new view was obtained on 10 July at 6.30pm when the spacecraft was 2.7 million miles (4.3 million kilometers) from Jupiter on the outbound leg of its initial 53.5 day capture orbit. The color image shows atmospheric features on Jupiter, including the famous Great Red Spot, and three of the massive planet's four largest moons -- Io, Europa and Ganymede, from left to right in the image.

Dr Leigh Fletcher from the Department of Physics and Astronomy said: “One of the most exciting things about this image is that we’re once again seeing a crescent Jupiter, with one half illuminated by the Sun and the other in darkness.  That’s a vantage point that we can never get from Earth, and whets the appetite for what will come next from Juno.

“The other significant thing about this image is that it shows that Juno’s instruments are starting to wake up and that they are healthy, ready to start acquiring the scientific data that we’re all eagerly anticipating. The best is still to come.”

JunoCam is a color, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter's poles and cloud tops. As Juno's eyes, it will provide a wide view, helping to provide context for the spacecraft's other instruments. JunoCam was included on the spacecraft specifically for purposes of public engagement; although its images will be helpful to the science team, it is not considered one of the mission's science instruments.

The University of Leicester is home to the only formal UK science lead for the Juno mission. Planetary scientists and astronomers from the Department of Physics and Astronomy will be studying the gas giant's magnetosphere, dynamic atmosphere and its beautiful polar auroras.

Watch a video interview with Leicester astronomers involved in the Juno mission:

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