The Juno probe has completed its first Jupiter flyby

The spacecraft entered Jovian orbit in July, and has now completed the first of 36 flybys of the solar system's giant.

Juno captured the north pole of Jupiter on August 27 as it approached, from a distance of 703,000 kilometres (437,000 miles).

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Jupiter probe Juno, launched in April 2011 and entering Jovian orbit in July 2016, is going to be spending the better part of the next two years swooping around the planet, collecting data on Jupiter and its moons.

At 6.44 p.m PT on August 28, it reached the first of many milestones: It successfully completed its first flyby, just 4,200 kilometres (2,600 miles) above the clouds of Jupiter's north pole.

Between now and February 2018, Juno is to make another 35 orbital flybys of Jupiter, collecting the highest-resolution images of the planet to date, as well as the first looks at its poles.

"We are getting some intriguing early data returns as we speak. It will take days for all the science data collected during the flyby to be downlinked and even more to begin to comprehend what Juno and Jupiter are trying to tell us," said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

"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."

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