We can’t all afford to send our own spacecraft to Jupiter. But thanks to NASA, we’ve got the next best thing, as you can now vote on what images its Juno spacecraft takes next.
As far as we’re aware, this is the first mission where the public has been given the chance to vote on what a spacecraft takes pictures of. And it’s a pretty awesome initiative, letting people choose locations on Jupiter to image with the spacecraft’s JunoCam.
The latest vote started yesterday, and continues until noon EST (5pm GMT) on Monday, January 23. The winning locations will be snapped by Juno, which entered orbit in July 2016, as it completes its latest close flyby of Jupiter on February 2. The spacecraft is going to pass just 4,300 kilometers (2,700 miles) above the clouds of Jupiter.
“It is great to be able to share excitement and science from the Juno mission with the public in this way,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, in a statement. “The public involvement is really affecting how we look at the most massive planetary inhabitant in our Solar System.”
To get involved, head to the voting page for the flyby here. You’ll be able to pick one of a number of points of interest that will be in view of the spacecraft’s JunoCam, including anticyclonic storms on Jupiter in the form of white spots and Jupiter’s south pole – which has never been seen in much detail before.
The camera itself does not have any scientific goals per se, although its images are useful to the science team. Rather, it was included on the spacecraft as a public outreach tool. It is a visible-light camera, able to snap wide views of Jupiter and also close-up images of interesting features.
Each orbit of Juno takes 53 days to complete, and the public will be able to vote on every flyby. You can vote several times on each orbit, and once the flyby is complete, the raw images will be posted on the JunoCam website. What we get to see, though, is up to you.