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Amateur Images Show Juno’s ‘Slingshot’ Around Earth Was a Success

The path of the Juno spacecraft imaged as it flies past Earth on October 9, 2013, using the iTelescope Observatory in Nerpio, Spain. Credit and copyright: Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes and Martino Nicolini/Remanzacco Observatory.

The path of the Juno spacecraft imaged as it flies past Earth on October 9, 2013, using the iTelescope Observatory in Nerpio, Spain. Credit and copyright: Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes and Martino Nicolini/Remanzacco Observatory.

With the government shutdown, news out of NASA is sometimes sparse. But thankfully amateur astronomers can fill in some of the holes! While Juno’s project manager Rick Nybakken has confirmed that the spacecraft successfully completed its slingshot flyby of Earth yesterday, images taken by amateur astronomers around the world also conclusively confirm that Juno is now “bang on target!” tweeted Nick Howes of the Remanzacco Observatory team. This image from Howes, Ernesto Guido and Martino Nicolini shows the path of Juno across the sky, as seen from a remote telescope in Spain. “The spacecraft is trailed in the image due to its fast speed,” the team wrote on their website, and extrapolations of Juno’s orbit shows it is heading straight for Jupiter.

You can see a gallery of images of Juno’s flyby taken by amateurs on this SpaceWeather.com page.

Meanwhile, there are some concerns about the spacecraft going into safe mode immediately after the flyby. Our previous article by Ken Kremer reported that the mission teams are assessing the situation, and that the spacecraft is “power positive.”

One idea of why the spacecraft went into safe mode is that the battery was being depleted faster than anticipated, but the team is still working to confirm the reason.

Closest approach was at 12:21 PM PST (19:21 UTC, 3:21 PM EDT).

For more information about the flyby, check out this new video from Bill Nye the Science Guy — who has a new video series called “Why With Nye.”

Juno's flyby path, via Heaven's Above.

Juno’s flyby path, via Heaven’s Above.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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