This Probe Is Days Away From Jupiter and It's Already Capturing Incredible Photos

Source: AP
Source: AP

NASA's Juno spacecraft is getting closer and closer to Jupiter, and it's returned some incredible photos of its approach. 

The spacecraft captured this family portrait of the gas giant and its moons on June 21 — about two weeks out from its scheduled July 4 arrival:

Jupiter and its moons.
Source: 
NASA

"It is a great feeling to put all the interplanetary space in the rearview mirror and have the biggest planet in the solar system in our windshield," Juno project manager Rick Nybakken said in a statement.

The image was taken when Jupiter was still 6.8 million miles away, according to NASA. Juno is approaching the planet above its north pole — a unique angle, given that past probes have approached from above the equator. 

"This image is the start of something great," Juno principle investigator Scott Bolton said in a statement. "In the future we will see Jupiter's polar auroras from a new perspective. We will see details in rolling bands of orange and white clouds like never before, and even the Great Red Spot."

An illustration of NASA's Juno spacecraft.
Source: 
NASA

Juno will enter into orbit around Jupiter on July 4 and stay in orbit for 20 months. During that time, we'll learn about Jupiter's atmosphere and map its magnetic and gravity fields.

We may even get some new insight into Jupiter's moon Europa, which scientists suspect could support life.

Read more:
• Kepler-1647b: NASA Astronomers Just Discovered a Huge "Tatooine Planet" With 2 Suns
• Scientists Just Gained Access to an Unexplored Part of Jupiter
• This Newborn "Hot Jupiter" Planet Is Getting Eaten by Its Star

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