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US Space Probe Sends First Picture of Jupiter from Orbit


This color view from NASA's Juno spacecraft is made from some of the first images taken by JunoCam after the spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on July 5 (UTC). (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

NASA'S deep space probe Juno has sent back its first image of the planet Jupiter since arriving at the interstellar gas giant.

The U.S. space agency released a picture Tuesday showing Jupiter surrounded by three of its four largest moons — Io, Europa and Ganymeade.

Juno entered orbit around Jupiter last week after a five-year, 2.8 billion kilometer journey. Ground controllers deliberately kept the probe's camera — dubbed the JunoCam — and other instruments shut down as a precaution as Juno passed through Jupiter's extreme radiation environment.

The probe will spend the next 20 months studying the fifth — and biggest — planet in our solar system, to help scientists determine the foundations of our solar system, and to search for signs of a solid surface beneath its cloud-covered atmosphere.

The JunoCam is expected to send its first high-resolution images of Jupiter late next month, when the probe makes its next closest pass across the planet.

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