Hey, everyone! Have you seen these new photos that came in earlier this week from NASA’s Juno probe, which has been a half billion miles away at Jupiter since early July? These are the first of the close-up ones, and they’re … well, I’ll let you decide.
Here’s Jupiter’s south pole:
Not to be outdone, here’s Jupiter’s north pole:
The north pole photo was taken from about 48,000 miles away on the way in toward Juno’s closest approach to the giant planet. Juno was about 58,000 miles out when it grabbed the south pole shot. During its closest approach, Juno got within about 2600 miles from the tops of those amazing clouds. That’s about the distance from Boston to Los Angeles. No human-made thing has ever gotten closer and survived.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop looking at these photos. Every time I flip back and forth between them, I see some new detail. Some new storm, so new whorl of cloud. Some new thing. These make me think of all of the other amazing views we’ve seen over the years from all over the solar system over the years. The photos of Pluto from New Horizons, the pictures of the Martian landscape from all of the rovers and orbiters there, the endless flood of gorgeousness from the Saturn system brought to us by Cassini. The list is very long and proud.
No matter how far away these places are, we’ve managed to get to them and learn more and more about them. We’ve made it to all of the biggest things in the solar system now. The more we’ve learned about them, the more we’ve learned about the universe and about ourselves through them. I’m as excited and eager as anyone for people to start going deeper into space, too, but the work being done now, today, is amazing and, at times unbelievable. There are no people at these places yet, but this is space exploration at its best. I remember the day my life changed with the Voyagers’ photos of Saturn, and I can’t wait to see what else we’ll learn from Juno.
NASA has a website with the latest from the Juno mission, including more than just these two photos. Have a look when you have a chance. You won’t regret it.
Clear skies, everyone!