NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully made its sixth close flyby of Jupiter on Friday, May 19, 2017, at 2 a.m. EDT (6 a.m. UTC; 11 p.m. PDT on May 18).
At the time of the closest approach, Juno was about 2,200 miles (3,500 km) above Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops.
All of Juno’s science instruments and its JunoCam were operating during the flyby, collecting data that is now being returned to Earth.
“At the time of perijove (defined as the point in Juno’s orbit when it is closest to the planet’s center), the orientation of the spacecraft was optimized for gravity studies, to understand more about the interior structure of Jupiter,” the mission scientists said.
“That means that we had radio contact with the spacecraft throughout the perijove pass,” they explained.
“That in turn means that we were able to downlink data the entire time.”
Juno’s next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on July 11, 2017, taking it over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.