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Jupiter as seen by Juno
A picture from NASA’s Juno orbiter highlights Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. (NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Seán Doran Photo / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There’s a fresh flowering of photos from NASA’s Juno orbiter, and this time they’re highlighting Jupiter’s most famous feature, the Great Red Spot.

The latest load comes from Juno’s close encounter with the giant planet on April 1. It’s known as Perijove 12, because it’s the 12th close-up photo opportunity for the probe’s science mission.

Juno’s main mission is to characterize Jupiter’s magnetic field, gravity field and internal composition, but a camera was added to the scientific payload primarily for outreach purposes. After every perijove session, the raw imagery data is sent back to Earth for professional and amateur astronomers to process.

The images are posted to the Juno mission’s website, and to social-media accounts and Flickr photostreams as well.

Juno’s close encounters come every 54 days, which means Perijove 13 is set for May 24. The primary science mission is due to end in July with Perijove 14, but there’s a chance that observations could continue as part of an extended mission.

Any extension can go on only for so long, however. In 2021, the radiation-battered probe is due to fire its thrusters for a fatal plunge into Jupiter’s cloud tops. That maneuver is part of NASA’s plan to make sure Juno leaves no debris that could smash into Europa or other potential abodes for life in the Jovian system.

Here’s a sampling of the goodies from Perijove 12:

Check out Sean Doran’s Flickr photostream for more of his processed images, which are distributed in accordance with a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

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