While on its way to study Jupiter, NASA's JUNO spacecraft made an unexpected discovery when it captured the first video of the moon orbiting the Earth.
The JUNO spacecraft launched in 2011 and will arrive at Jupiter in 2016, where it will begin a detailed study of Jupiter’s atmosphere using a variety of high tech instruments and cameras that will enable scientists to study the enigmatic gas giant.
One of these specialized cameras, which was designed to track faint stars, captured a unique low-resolution view of the moon orbiting the Earth. A view that scientists had never been able to see before. The cameras that took the images are located near the tip of one of the spacecraft’s solar-array arms and is a part of Juno’s Magnetic Field Investigation (MAG) sensors. As the spacecraft made its flyby all of its cameras were pointed at Earth, allowing for the fantastic footage. Since the spacecraft was travelling at such a great speed, the movie had to be processed into video on Earth, since the real time movie would be nearly impossible to view.
JUNO was also able to test its new Waves instruments – which were designed to record radio and plasma waves in Jupiter’s magnetosphere – by recording amateur ham radio signals from all around the world. The public was invited to say “hi” and operators from every continent got in on the fun. The name Juno comes from Greek and Roman mythos. Jupiter made a screen of clouds to hide his misdeeds from his wife Juno, but she was able to use her powers and discover Jupiter’s doings.
Hopefully JUNO will be able to live up to its namesake in 2016 by looking behind the curtains into the mysteries of the big brother of our solar system.