NASA releases the first images of Jupiter taken by its Juno spacecraft almost two months after its arrival in orbit around the biggest planet in the solar system. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) NASA released various first images of Jupiter taken by its Juno spacecraft on Friday (September 02) almost two months after it arrived in an orbit around the biggest planet in the solar system. The images were taken last Saturday (August 27) when the mission had completed its first of 36 orbital flybys of the massive planet. According to NASA's website, results from the spacecraft's instruments will also be released at a later stage. Launched from Florida nearly five years ago, Juno needed to be precisely positioned, ignite its main engine at exactly the right time and keep it firing for 35 minutes to become only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. Only one other spacecraft, Galileo, has ever circled Jupiter, which is itself orbited by 67 known moons. NASA's scientists believe Juno is likely to discover even more. Seven other U.S. space probes have sailed past the gas giant on brief reconnaissance missions before heading elsewhere in the solar system. The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, was expected to last for around 18 months. On its final orbit, Juno will dive into Jupiter's atmosphere, where it will be crushed and vaporized. Like Galileo, which circled Jupiter for eight years before crashing into the planet in 2003, Juno's demise is designed to prevent any hitchhiking microbes from Earth from inadvertently contaminating Jupiter's ocean-bearing moon Europa, a target of future study for extraterrestrial life.