Spacecraft don’t get to sleep in on the weekend—and neither do their scientists. On Saturday at 5:51 a.m. Pacific, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will swing within roughly 2,500 miles of Jupiter’s cloud tops, the closest it will get to the gas giant during its planned mission.
It will also be the first time that Juno’s suite of eight scientific instruments will be on, essentially marking the beginning of the science mission, officials said.
“This is our first close look at Jupiter with our eyes wide open,” Steve Levin, Juno’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in an interview.
After a nearly five-year journey to the outer solar system, Juno entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4, zipping close over the planet before shooting back out into space for an elongated, 53.5-day orbit. During that fast first flyby, all the science instruments were turned off, as the spacecraft focused on getting into orbit with as little potential distraction as possible.
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