GeminiFocus July 2017 | Page 10

Peter Michaud Striking Gemini Images Point Juno Spacecraft Toward Discovery Very detailed Gemini Observatory images peel back Jupiter’s atmospheric layers to support the NASA/JPL Juno spacecraft in its quest to understand the giant planet’s atmosphere. Note: This article is based on the June 30th Gemini Observatory press release. Text includes significant contributions by Glenn Orton and Michael Wong. All images are available electronically in the release. (More information on the Juno Mission.) High-resolution imaging of Jupiter by the Gemini North telescope on Maunakea is provid- ing critical data used to direct the Juno spacecraft toward compelling events in Jupiter’s atmosphere. “The Gemini observations, spanning most of the first half of this year, have already revealed a treasure-trove of fascinating events in Jupiter’s atmosphere,” said Glenn Orton, P rincipal Investigator for this Gemini adaptive optics investigation and coordinator for Earth-based observations supporting the Juno project at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Labo- ratory. “Back in May, Gemini zoomed in on intriguing features in and around Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: including a swirling structure on the inside of the spot, a curious hook-like cloud fea- ture on its western side, and a lengthy fine-structured wave extending off from its eastern side,” added Orton. “Events like this show that there’s still much to learn about Jupiter’s at- mosphere — the combination of Earth-based and spacecraft observations is a powerful one-two punch in exploring Jupiter.” Juno has now made five close-up passes of Jupiter’s atmosphere, the first of which was on August 27, 2016, and the latest (the fifth) on May 19th of this year. Each of these close passes has provided Juno’s science team with surprises, and the Juno science return has benefit- ted from a coordinated campaign of Earth-based support — including observations from 8 GeminiFocus July 2017