Emily LakdawallaSep 22, 2016

Juno and Marble Movie update at Apojove 1

Juno is on its second of two long orbits around Jupiter, reaching apojove (its farthest distance from the planet) today. It's turning back, headed for another close pass over the north pole in about a month, on October 19. That's when it'll fire its main engine again, trimming its orbit to one that'll last only 14 instead of 53.5 days.

I checked with JPL because I hadn't heard anything about Juno for a while, and the public information officer DC Agle told me: "Vehicle is in great shape. Instruments / flight hardware all check out." I asked how preparations were going as they get ready to start the science mission in November, and he said "Minor changes to instrument parameters – but nothing at all significant."

On September 26, Jupiter will pass through solar conjunction as seen from Earth. Solar conjunction has no direct effect on Jupiter or the spacecraft orbiting it, but the Sun standing in between Earth and Jupiter makes communication with spacecraft difficult. So, starting tomorrow and for the following week, there'll be no data playback. That, in turn, means a weeklong pause for the recording of the JunoCam "Marble Movie," which has been running since July 11; it'll pick up again on September 30 and finish up on October 18. They've been releasing Marble Movie images here in one-week batches, and I've been downloading them and reposting them here with thumbnails generated by Gerald Eichstädt. Here's Gerald's latest incarnation of the movie, running through September 10, which is well worth the three minutes it takes to watch it.

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