Videos: Ride along with Juno as it flies by Jupiter’s swirling clouds

The Juno probe is in a wide elliptical orbit around Jupiter that sends it way out into space far from the gas giant at one end of the ellipse and then down close to the cloud tops at the other. Below are videos showing imagery of Jupiter, enhanced to bring out the cloud patterns, as if one were riding on the spacecraft during its most recent two passes close to the planet:

Here is a diagram of Juno’s orbit:

The orbit lasts 53.5 days. The original plan was to fire the spacecraft’s main engine to make the orbit more circular and smaller so that it  lasted only 14 days (shown by the set of green-blue orbits in the diagram). However, problems with the engine valves led mission managers to decide it was safest to leave the spacecraft in the original wide orbit.

When a satellite is in orbit around earth, the two extremes of the orbital ellipse are referred to as apogee (farthest from earth) and perigee (closest to earth). As explained in the Oxford dictionary, “gee” derives as follows:

from French apogée or modern Latin apogaeum, from Greek apogaion (diastēma), ‘(distance) away from earth’, from apo ‘from’ + gaia, gē ‘earth’.

So for an orbit around Jupiter, the terms have been replaced with apojove and perijove, using the Latin word Jove for Jupiter.

Note that it was discovered by Kepler that orbits were ellipses rather than circles. He also noticed that an object in orbit around a large body will move fastest at the low point and slowest at the high point in the ellipse. (Newton later used his calculus math tools with the laws of motion and the inverse squared law of gravity to explain these key features of orbital mechanics.) So Juno’s passes above the cloud tops very quickly at perijove and then takes a long slow trip up to apojove and back.