Saturday, August 27, 2016

Juno Signal Acquisition -- Jupiter Imagery Data Downlink Underway, Tonight: Success!

I am immensely pleased to report that all has gone just as planned as Juno skimmed the tops of the polar vortex at Jupiter earlier today, cruising in -- at about 130,000 miles per hour -- as a speed measure, relative to the gigantic Jovian globe. Data -- terabytes of it, actually -- is flowing back to NASA, and to JPL, as I type this in. Very exciting.

We now await some high-res images, hopefully later next week, or after Labor Day weekend. I am grinning ear to ear, at the wonder of the spacecraft science on display here. From NASA's JPL team and the presser, tonight:

. . . ."Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us."

While results from the spacecraft's suite of instruments will be released down the road, a handful of images from Juno's visible light imager -- JunoCam -- are expected to be released the next couple of weeks. Those images will include the highest-resolution views of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter's north and south poles.

"We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world," said Bolton.

So it is, that what was drawn up on a series of design tables and screens with CAD programs loaded has now physically spanned deep space, to bring us startling views of the bellicose, highly gaseous giant -- incessantly spewing various forms of energy and matter toxic to human life, here in our own system (and for once I am not referring to Mr. Trump). Separately, but perhaps celestially related -- I am awash in the gentle tug of a particular shepherd moon, this fine Saturday evening -- just beaming. . . sleep well, one and all.


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