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12 amazing images of Jupiter

By: Katherine Butler on March 28, 2017, 10:05 a.m.
An illustration of the Juno spacecraft in front of Jupiter

Photo: NASA/JPL/Wikimedia Commons

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Juno

The Juno spacecraft has been circling Jupiter since July 2016 with the goal of improving our understanding of the planet. The solar-powered orbiter will study Jupiter's origins, interior structure, deep atmosphere and magnetosphere using an impressive suite of scientific instruments such that the world has never seen. The initial plan was to spend a total of 20 months orbiting Jupiter and then burn up in the planet's atmosphere in early 2018, but that's not what happened. The mission has been extended through at least July 2021.

The spacecraft gets a flurry of information each time it makes its closest pass to the planet, but its orbit has changed, and that's part of the reason for the continued funding, according to Space.com. Instead of information bursts every 14 days, now it's every 53 days because of an issue with a thruster valve. Still, with the continued funding, there's still much to be learned.