Earth from Juno

On Oct. 9, Juno flew by Earth using the home planet’s gravity to get a boost needed to reach Jupiter. The JunoCam caught this image of Earth, and other instruments were tested to ensure they work as designed during a close planetary encounter.

The JunoCam on the Juno spacecraft caught this image of Earth during the Oct. 9, 2013 gravity-assist flyby on its way to Jupiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

The JunoCam on the Juno spacecraft caught this image of Earth during the Oct. 9, 2013 gravity-assist flyby on its way to Jupiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

The Juno spacecraft was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 5, 2011. Juno’s rocket, the Atlas 551, was only capable of giving Juno enough energy or speed to reach the asteroid belt, at which point the Sun’s gravity pulled Juno back toward the inner solar system. The Earth flyby gravity assist increases the spacecraft’s speed to put it on course for arrival at Jupiter on July 4, 2016.

Several Juno science instruments made planned observations during the approach to Earth, including the Advanced Stellar Compass, JunoCam and Waves. These observations provided a useful opportunity to test the instruments during a close planetary encounter and ensure that they work as designed. The main goal of the flyby – to give the spacecraft the boost it needed in order to reach Jupiter – was accomplished successfully, and the spacecraft is healthy and operating as expected.

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