Busy Planetary Science Long Weekend: Juno’s Seventh Jupiter Dive Now Underway — Closest Dip, At 5:49 PM EDT

I can barely keep up with all that is happening over a billion miles from here, these days. . . .

In addition to the second to last Cassini Saturn loop, this weekend, and the 40th year of Voyager, now in interstellar space. . . (the first human-made object to reach the interstellar winded “shipping lanes” to the stars) we are reminded of Juno’s seventh dip to the cloud tops of mighty Jupiter.

Do see it all in near real time, this evening — via NASA/JPL’s tweets — but here is the press release, of a few hours ago:

. . . .NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make its seventh science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops on Friday, Sept. 1, at 2:49 p.m. PDT (5:49 p.m. EDT and 21:49 UTC). At the time of perijove (defined as the point in Juno’s orbit when it is closest to the planet’s center), the spacecraft will be about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops.

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California. . . .

I feel so fortunate — to be alive in an age of near-daily planetary science discovery and wonders. . . not that the suffering engendered by Harvey is small, but it should help us to realize we are only tenants here — and the Universe regularly reminds us that we survive here, and occupy — under her rules, exclusively. It may take millennia for some of us (45 cough!) to see that, but it is true.

All of us here — we have so much more in common, as inhabitants of this tiny sphere, than we claim as differences, to keep us apart. In truth, we are all but very temporary guests here, on this incredibly waifish pale blue dot — floating now, in Milton’s nearly endless powdered night blanket — in front of the stars, stretching to near infinity. . . . Whoosh. Do rest up over the long weekend, and do stay dry and safe with the rains now moving into middle Tennessee. Smile.



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