Looking Toward Jupiter

Hey, everyone! I never got a chance to do those other posts about Jupiter ahead of Juno’s arrival. You know how it gets sometimes. Here’s one of them, though. In 1979, Voyager 1 reached Jupiter, the first stop on the Voyagers’ tour through the outer solar system. This was 1979, remember, nearly 40 years ago, before “The Empire Strikes Back” was released, if you use that as your cultural touchstone. Another way to look at it; it was also only seven years after Gene Cernan closed the hatch door, pushed the “GO!” button, and sent Apollo 17, the last lunar mission, home. In fact if you count to when the Voyagers were launched, it was only five years. The future of space exploration was very bright.

These probes, the Voyagers, Galileo, Cassini, which is still making trouble at Saturn, New Horizons, and all of the robots at Mars are incredible, and every time one of these missions gets near I feel that… that giddiness come back. I can’t wait to see what we learn from Juno as it skirts just above Jupiter’s cloud tops, closer than we’ve ever been before. I can’t wait to open my astronomy books in a few weeks and see what’s, suddenly, but has always been, all wrong.

Ahead of that, here’s an animation from NASA of some of the first pictures sent back from Jupiter by Voyager 1 all those years ago, over 60 days in 1977 as it approached. I love how animations like these give depth and reality to the planet. It looks like an actual place, not just a circle on a page or a screen. If you look closely, you can see black spots that are Jupiter’s big moons crossing in front of Voyager.

jupiter2

Clear skies everyone, and safe travels Juno.

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