C. Crockett, E. Otwell
Since 1973, eight spacecraft have flown past or orbited Jupiter. On July 4, NASA’s Juno probe will become the planet’s ninth visitor.
Juno’s trajectory is different than all others, as seen in the plot above and in the video. For 20 months, Juno will repeatedly skim the cloud tops, looping over the poles on orbits that are almost perpendicular to Jupiter’s equator.
Most other spacecraft zipped by, using the planet’s gravity to speed them along to other destinations. Only Galileo, which arrived in 1995, stuck around; it spent nearly eight years circling Jupiter’s equator, repeatedly buzzing the four largest moons.
Hands on Jupiter
Explore the nest of tracks laid down by all nine spacecraft that have (or are about to) visit Jupiter in this interactive image.
To zoom, use the scroll wheel of your mouse. To rotate, left-click, hold and move the mouse in any direction. Right-click and hold to pan the image. Or use the tools at top right to zoom, rotate, pan and reset the image.
J. Giorgini and JPL solar system dynamics group. NASA/JPL Horizons On-Line Ephemeris System. Data retrieved May 6, 2016.
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