Last Monday (March 27), NASA’s Juno spacecraft made a historic passage within the vicinity of the cloud tops of Jupiter’s atmosphere, marking its fifth overall flyby of the gas giant and fourth “science pass”, or experimental run. The probe marked its closest point to the planet at 08:52 GMT, coming within 2700 miles of its cloud tops as it collected information on the planet’s atmospheric makeup, mostly consisting of molecular hydrogen and helium, as well as traces of compounds such as water, hydrogen sulfide, or phosphine to name a few.
The probe has been orbiting Jupiter since summer of 2016, coming within its closest distance of the planet every 53 days or so. A modified plan to enter a closer orbit that would have decreased the orbital time to 14 days instead was originally pitched to increase the number of close encounters, however it was immediately put to rest after issues with the space probe’s helium valves.
For more on the Juno spacecraft and a video explaining its path and purpose, click here.