Junocam Image of the Earth-Sized “Red Spot Jr.” Storm on Jupiter

Everyone knows about Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, the centuries-old giant anticyclone on Jupiter’s southern hemisphere 2-3 times the size of Earth. But there are many other smaller (but still huge by terrestrial standards!) storms on Jupiter, the largest of which is Oval BA—also known as the “Red Spot Jr.” The image above shows this…

Juno Just Hours from Jupiter Arrival

After nearly 5 years of traveling through space NASA’s Juno spacecraft is just a few dozen hours away from entering orbit around Jupiter, the Solar System’s largest, most massive, and most extreme planet. “We are ready,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). “The science team is incredibly excited…

Jupiter’s Moons Make Ghostly Auroral “Footprints”

We have all marveled at incredible photos and time-lapse videos of Earth’s auroral displays, captured by talented photographers that have braved the frigid nighttime temperatures of remote high-latitude locations as well as by those privileged few living in orbit aboard the International Space Station. But our planet isn’t the only one with curtains of light crowning its…

The Brightest Lights: 12 Awesome Space Stories of 2013

What a year for space exploration! With 2013 coming to a close I thought I would look back on some of the biggest news in space that I’ve featured here on Lights in the Dark. Rather than a “top ten” list, as is common with these year-end reviews, I’m going to do more of a…

This is Earth From Juno

Last Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, NASA’s Juno spacecraft made a slingshot pass of Earth in order to get the necessary speed boost to reach Jupiter in 2016. As it came within 347 miles of our planet’s surface, passing closest over the southern Atlantic at 3:21 p.m. EDT, it used its JunoCam (developed by the San…

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft to Fly By Earth Today, Destined for Jupiter

Today’s the day! NASA’s Juno* spacecraft, launched back on August 5, 2011 (I should know, I was there) will get a little help from its friends (that’s us!) as it passes by Earth to get a gravitational power-boost on its way to Jupiter. The exact time of Juno’s closest approach is 3:21 p.m. EDT (12:21…

Juno Looks Back Home

It’s not the famous “pale blue dot” image, but it sure is close: on August 26 the Juno spacecraft turned its JunoCam to take this image of the Earth and the Moon from a distance of about 6 million miles. From that distance, our world is effectively reduced to a bright fuzzy dot, with a smaller,…

Juno Launches!

(Can’t see the video below? Click here.) Today, at 12:25 pm EDT, an Atlas V 551 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base with the Juno spacecraft aboard, headed for the planet Jupiter. And I was there, along with 149 other “space tweeps”, watching from the press site at Kennedy Space Center. It…

Juno where I’ll be next week?

…at the launch of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, that’s where! 🙂 NASA is holding yet another Tweetup event at Kennedy Space Center next week, focusing on the launch of the long-awaited Juno mission to Jupiter. Even before I left for the Tweetup for the Atlantis flight I had put my name in the hat for the…

Next Stop: Jupiter

NASA’s “What’s Up” video series highlights Jupiter this month, and explains the upcoming Juno mission set to launch in August 2011.