It’s taken a little over five years, but NASA’s Juno space probe has finally reached Jupiter — and here’s the closest pic humanity has ever taken of the gorgeous planet.
The mission is set to execute 36 orbital flybys of Jupiter, and the image here was captured with the probe a mere 437,000 miles above the planet, while traveling at 130,000 mph with respect to the planet. This initial flyby was the closest the Juno probe will pass to Jupiter during its prime mission. The probe will continue buzzing around Jupiter until February 2018 (it actually arrived on July 4, but had its instruments shut down at the time and had to wait for the next time around with all the gizmos turned on).
"We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak," Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement. "It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us."
According to NASA, everything seems to be working properly, and the space agency expects the mission to continue on as planned. The mission will continue to gather data about the planet using its numerous sensors and on-board tech. Down the line, we can expect higher-resolution pics and eventually some shots of the Jovian atmosphere and our first peeks at the planet’s north and south poles.
Check out the image below and let us know what you think: