NASA’s $1 billion Jupiter probe has taken gorgeous new photos of the giant planet

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While most NASA workers were sipping coffee on Wednesday morning, the space agency’s Juno probe was screaming over the cloud tops of Jupiter at roughly 130,000 miles per hour.

The $1 billion mission sends Juno swinging around the planet on an elliptical orbit about once every 53.5 days. The spacecraft made its eleventh close pass, or perijove, around 9:36 a.m. ET on February 7, taking some gorgeous photos of the gas giant in the process.

The new images reveal giant bands of swirling storms and a unusually bright, pillowy cloud, among other features.

Sometimes it takes Juno days (or even weeks) to beam back all of its raw image data, but the JunoCam instrument’s unparalleled view is always worth the wait. The images shared online rarely come from NASA, though: The data gets posted to a special website where a community of science and art enthusiasts can take the black-and-white files and tweak them into stunning color pictures, which they upload back to the site.

Here are some of the prettiest new images we’ve seen from Juno’s latest orbit.

SEE ALSO: The most mind-blowing space and astronomy pictures of 2017

DON’T MISS: Jupiter is so big it does not actually orbit the sun

Juno’s journey began with its launch on August 5, 2011. It took the probe nearly five years to reach orbit around Jupiter.

Radiation fields around Jupiter are so intense that they can damage electronics, so NASA set Juno on a course to spend very little time close to the planet.

Juno pulls off a two-hour flyby, called a perijove, once every 53.5 days — the length of its wild orbit around Jupiter.

NASA was supposed to shrink Juno’s orbits to once every two weeks, but a faulty engine valve foiled that maneuver.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider …read more

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