Where should Nasa’s Juno spacecraft aim its camera during its next Jupiter flyby? For the first time, you can play a part in the decision.
Members of the public can vote to participate in selecting all pictures to be taken of Jupiter during the Juno flyby on February 2. Voting will begin on January 19 and conclude on January 23.
“We are looking forward to people visiting our website and becoming part of the JunoCam imaging team,” said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator from the Planetary Science Institute in the US.
“It’s up to the public to determine the best locations in Jupiter’s atmosphere for JunoCam to capture during this flyby,” said Hansen.
JunoCam will begin taking pictures as the spacecraft approaches Jupiter’s north pole. Two hours later, the imaging will conclude as the spacecraft completes its close flyby, departing from below the gas giant’s south pole.
Juno is currently on its fourth orbit around Jupiter. It takes 53 days for Juno to complete one orbit.
“The pictures JunoCam can take depict a narrow swath of territory the spacecraft flies over, so the points of interest imaged can provide a great amount of detail,” said Hansen.
“They play a vital role in helping the Juno science team establish what is going on in Jupiter’s atmosphere at any moment. We are looking forward to seeing what people from outside the science team think is important,” said Hansen.
There will be a new voting page for each upcoming flyby of the mission, Nasa said.
On each of the pages, several points of interest will be highlighted that are known to come within the JunoCam field of view during the next close approach.
Each participant will get a limited number of votes per orbit to devote to the points of interest they want imaged.
After the flyby is complete, the raw images will be posted to the JunoCam website, where the public can perform its own processing.
“It is great to be able to share excitement and science from the Juno mission with the public in this way,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute.
“Amateur scientists, artists, students and whole classrooms are providing the world with their unique perspectives of Jupiter,” Bolton said.
During the February 2 flyby, Juno will make its closest approach to Jupiter, hovering about 4,300 kilometres above the planet’s swirling clouds.
JunoCam is a colour, visible-light camera designed to capture remarkable pictures of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops.
As Juno’s eyes, it will provide a wide view of Jupiter over the course of the mission, helping to provide context for the spacecraft’s other instruments.