US space agency NASA’s Juno mission performed its fifth close flyby of Jupiter on Monday as it successfully completed its fourth science orbit. According to NASA, all the science instruments of Juno and the JunoCam were functional when the flyby took place. NASA Juno spacecraft collected data during the flyby which has been beamed back to the Earth.
NASA Juno spacecraft was closest to the gas giant at 4:52 am (0852 GMT) as it skimmed 2,700 miles over Jupiter’s cloud tops, travelling about 129,000 mph (208,000 km/h) relative to the planet, the US space agency officials said.
The science instruments of NASA Juno spacecraft collected data about the atmosphere, gravity and electromagnetic fields of Jupiter. The JunoCam atop the NASA Juno spacecraft has meanwhile, clicked close-up pictures of the planet.
"This will be our fourth science pass — the fifth close flyby of Jupiter of the mission — and we are excited to see what new discoveries Juno will reveal," Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said.
"Every time we get near Jupiter's cloud tops, we learn new insights that help us understand this amazing giant planet."
On July 4, 2016, NASA Juno spacecraft was placed in orbit around Jupiter after it made a 5-year journey through the deep space. Since then the NASA Juno spacecraft has successfully provided several information about the composition, cloud structure and the magnificent auroras and magnetic fields of Jupiter.
NASA Juno probe’s close encounters with Jupiter take place only once in every 53 days as the spacecraft is in a highly elliptical orbit around the planet.
In February, a problem was detected with two helium valves of NASA Juno probe because of which the space agency had to scrap the plans of brining Juno into a closer orbit around Jupiter with a maneuver that would have brought the time it takes to circle the planet to 14 days.
"During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere," NASA officials said in the statement.
The NASA Juno mission team is still analysing data from this flyby and the last four and are expected to publish new research papers with science results within the next four months, they added.
The NASA Juno Mission will come to an end in February 2018 when the probe will plunge into Jupiter and will intentionally crash-land after 20 months in orbit.
The NASA Juno spacecraft will perform the next flyby of Jupiter on May 19 this year.