Juno probe successfully completes first flyby of Jupiter

The probe will make 35 more flybys before its prime mission ends in February 2018

Juno probe successfully completes first flyby of Jupiter

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA's Juno probe has successfully completed its first flyby of Jupiter.

The spacecraft is due to make 36 orbital flybys of the gas giant before its prime mission ends in early 2018, but yesterday was the closest it will pass to the planet.

Juno flew past at around 4,200 km from the planet's clouds at around 2.44pm Irish time yesterday.

The US space agency said everything appears to have gone as planned.

Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said: "We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak.

"It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us.

"We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world," he added.

NASA says that the first images from the flyby - captured by the probe's visible light imager or 'JunoCam' - are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Juno successfully entered orbit around Jupiter in July, following its five-year, 2.8 billion km voyage from Earth.

During its mission, the probe will measure the planet's water content, its magnetic fields and search for signs of a solid core.

Scientists will also be hoping to find out how far away from the sun the gas giant formed by searching for water in Jupiter's thick atmosphere.