Juno spacecraft is scheduled to take its next close flyby of Jupiter on Feb. 2
NASA is calling all space enthusiasts to help decide picture locations for Juno’s next flyby of Jupiter. This is the first time NASA is inviting public to select all the pictures to be taken during the forthcoming close approach. This task is usually done by teams of scientists themselves. People can participate in the project through voting which will start Thursday, January 19 and will continue till January 23. Juno spacecraft will point its camera, called the JunoCam, towards only those sites which will get the most votes. Juno is currently in a 53-day orbit around Pluto. Its first flyby occurred on August 27 and it was the first time when the spacecraft sent some intriguing data back to Earth. Juno encountered some problem before its October 19 flyby but eventually entered the safe mode. On December 13, Juno completed its third closest approach to Pluto with all instruments on. Its next flyby of the planet is scheduled to take place on February 2. At the time of this closest approach, the spacecraft will be about 2,700 miles above the planet’s mysterious cloud top. Seven instruments including Juno camera will once again be used to collect important data. “We are looking forward to people visiting our website and becoming part of the JunoCam imaging team,” said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute. “It’s up to the public to determine the best locations in Jupiter’s atmosphere for JunoCam to capture during this flyby.” The camera installed on Juno will begin taking pictures as the spacecraft approaches near the planet’s north pole and the activity will last for two hours. Once the flyby is completed, raw images will be posted on the JunoCam website. This will enable public to perform its own image processing. “The pictures JunoCam can take depict a narrow swath of territory the spacecraft flies over, so the points of interest imaged can provide a great amount of detail,” said Hansen. “They play a vital role in helping the Juno science team establish what is going on in Jupiter’s atmosphere at any moment. We are looking forward to seeing what people from outside the science team think is important.” NASA has provided opportunities for the public participation many times before. But this is the first project that will actually get people involved in space activities and will offer them a chance to learn more. “It is great to be able to share excitement and science from the Juno mission with the public in this way,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute. “Amateur scientists, artists, students and whole classrooms are providing the world with their unique perspectives of Jupiter.I am really pleased that this website is having such a big impact and allowing so many people to join the Juno science team. The public involvement is really affecting how we look at the most massive planetary inhabitant in our solar system.” Launched in August 2011, Juno took five years and covered millions of miles to reach the Jupiter’s orbit. Juno’s main objective is to observe Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic field during the total of 35 close flybys and to reveal the secrets of Jupiter’s formation and evolution.