Images from NASA’s Juno mission taken during the recent flyby of the moon Ganymede and the planet Jupiter have been assembled into an immersive three-and-a-half minute animation.
On June 7, NASA’s Juno spacecraft passed closer to Ganymede, Jupiter’s icy moon, than any other spacecraft in the past two decades. Less than a day later, Juno made its 34th flyby of Jupiter, drifting from one pole to the other in less than three hours above the planet’s constantly moving atmosphere.
“The animation shows how beautiful deep space exploration can be. ” Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement.
“It allows people to imagine exploring our solar system in the first person, seeing what it would be like to be in orbit around Jupiter and fly over one of its icy moons. Today, as the day is getting closer and closer to when humans can visit space in orbit around the Earth, this drives our imaginations several decades into the future, when humans are visiting the alien worlds of our solar system. “
The animation begins with Juno approaching Ganymede, passing 1,138 kilometers from the surface at a relative speed of 67,000 km / h.
The images show several of the moon’s dark and light regions (the darkest regions are believed to be the result of ice sublimation in the surrounding void, leaving dark debris), as well as the Tros crater, which lies between the Ganymede’s biggest and brightest scars.
It takes Juno only 14 hours and 50 minutes to travel the 1,182,000 kilometers between Ganymede and Jupiter, and the viewer is transported just 3,400 kilometers above the spectacular cloud tops of Jupiter. At that time, Jupiter’s powerful gravity has accelerated the spacecraft to nearly 210 thousand km / h relative to the planet.
Among the Jovian atmospheric features that can be seen are circumpolar cyclones at the north pole and five from the gas giant’s “pearl chain”: eight massive counterclockwise storms in the southern hemisphere appearing as white ovals.
Using the information Juno has learned from studying Jupiter’s atmosphere, the animation team simulated a lightning bolt that could be seen passing over Jupiter’s gigantic thunderstorms.
The camera point of view for this time-lapse animation was generated by citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt, using composite images of Ganymede and Jupiter.
For both worlds, the JunoCam images were orthographically projected onto a digital sphere and used to create the flyby animation. Synthetic frames were added to provide approach and departure views of both Ganymede and Jupiter.
As planned, the gravitational pull of the giant moon affected Juno’s orbit, resulting in the reduction of its orbital period from 53 days to 43 days. The next flyby of Jupiter, the 35th of the mission, is scheduled for July 21.