NASA's $1 Billion Mission To Jupiter May End This Summer — Here Are The Best Images Juno Has Taken Of The Giant Planet So Far

Artist's illustration of Jupiter's Atmosphere

All good things must come to an end, and Juno— NASA's $1-billion mission to study Jupiter like never before — is no exception. The probe launched from Earth in August 2011, reached Jupiter in July 2016, and is scheduled to make its last two of 14 high-speed flybys around the gas giant in May and July.

But that doesn't mean Juno is finished beaming back astounding new photos of Jupiter. At least not yet but it will soon.

For months, NASA and Juno mission managers have discussed a "continuation mission" to extend the probe's time at Jupiter and unravel even more of the planet's super-size mysteries. Scientists are hungry for more data, especially since Juno got a sticky engine valve when it arrived — a glitch that dramatically slowed the pace of its discoveries.

"I think for sure the continuation mission will go on," Glenn Orton, a lead Juno mission team member and planetary scientist at NASA JPL, told Business Insider. NASA has yet to approve funding, though, so he added: "I'm hopeful but nervous." Should NASA decline an extension, the probe will plunge into Jupiter this summer. 

"Stay tuned," a space agency representative told Business Insider in an email, adding that more information about the mission will come in May. With Juno's first (and just maybe last) mission at Jupiter ending in July, we've rounded up some of the probe's most jaw-dropping photos, data imaging, and animations. Here are some of the most amazing pictures that Juno has sent back. Enjoy!



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