SPACE JUNO HEADS TO JUPITER.jpg
A handout composite photograph made available by NASA on 27 August 2016 shows a dual view of Jupiter taken on 23 August 2016, when NASA's Juno spacecraft was 2.8 million miles (4.4 million kilometers) from the gas giant planet on the inbound leg of its initial 53.5-day capture orbit. The image on the left is a color composite taken with Junocam's visible red, green, and blue filters. The image on the right was also taken by JunoCam, but uses the camera's infrared filter, which is sensitive to the abundance of methane in the atmosphere.
Photograph: EPA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA's Juno spacecraft on Saturday flew closer to Jupiter than any other space probe has flown before and began sending back data and images of the giant of the solar system, the US space agency said.

Juno made its closest approach over Jupiter at 1344 GMT at a distance of 4,200 kilometres above the planet's swirling clouds, a NASA news release said.

Early indications are that everything worked as planned, said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The flyby brought the spacecraft closer to the planet than at any other time during its prime mission.

It will take days for the data collected during the flyby to be received and even more time for scientists to comprehend it, said Scott Bolton, head of NASA's Juno team.

Bolton said Juno was sending "intriguing early data returns." A handful of images are expected to be released the next couple of weeks.

"We are in an orbit nobody has ever been in before, and these images give us a whole new perspective on this gas-giant world," said Bolton.

The flyby was the first of 36 planned during Juno's mission, which is scheduled to end in February 2018. Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since July 4.

Bolton said in an earlier NASA news release that the flyby was the first opportunity to take a close-up look at "the king of our solar system" and begin to understand it better.

It was the first time Juno had its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet.

Juno blasted off on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Related stories

Mars spacecraft in orbit but no clear signal from lander

Researchers discover new planetary neighbour for Earth

NASA launches its first probe to an asteroid

China unveils probe and rover for 2020 Mars mission

Latest news

Petrokemija posts HRK 87.3m loss in 2016

The Petrokemija artificial fertiliser manufacturer made HRK 1.93 billion in revenues in 2016, expenditures were HRK 2.02 billion and the loss was HRK 87.3 million, down 5.6% on the year, the Kutina-based plant said on Monday.

Wigemark says election legislation amendments of utmost importance for Bosnia

Wigemark said that amending the election legislation and continuing the process for joining the EU were the most important political processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Egyptian court upholds 10 death sentences in 2012 football riot

Ten defendants in a 2012 Egyptian football stadium riot, in which 74 people were killed, saw their death sentences upheld by an Egyptian court Monday.

Italian cops bust ring giving fake EU papers to 'enormous number'

Police said Monday they had busted a criminal ring that sold fake work papers to thousands of immigrants, allowing them to obtain Italian residency permits and access to the rest of the European Union.

Militants launch two rockets into Israel from Sinai

Two rockets fired from Egypt's Sinai peninsula landed in Israel on Monday.

US vice president reaffirms commitment to European Union

The United States remains committed to a "continued cooperation and partnership" with the European Union, US Vice President Mike Pence says.

Strike shuts museums and archaeological sites in Greece

The majority of archaeological sites and museums in Greece will remain closed on Monday.

Iran carries out more missile tests despite US pressure

Despite US sanctions, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard carried out more missile tests on Monday, part of three days of military manoeuvres.

Eleven injured as migrants storm Spanish enclave of Ceuta

Around 350 migrants managed to scale the 6-metre-high double border fence around the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in Morocco early Monday.

One Vietnamese sailor dead, seven abducted in attack off Philippines

Suspected pirates killed a crew member of a Vietnamese-flagged cargo ship and abducted seven in the latest attack in southern Philippine waters, coast guard officials said Monday.

Famine declared in parts of South Sudan - 100,000 facing starvation

More than 100,000 people are facing starvation in parts of violence-plagued South Sudan, three UN agencies said Monday as they declared famine in parts of the country.

North Korean envoy to Malaysia: 'We cannot trust the investigation'

North Korea "cannot trust the investigation" by Malaysian police into the death last week of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother, Pyongyang's ambassador to Malaysia said Monday.