Live: Pixel Event Pixel Watch Fire TV vs. Frame TV Hellraiser Review Audible Deal Prime Day Pizza Deals Best Sheets
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

By Jove! Juno enters Jupiter's orbit, and you get to take the pictures

Earth is about to see Jupiter in full color after the solar-powered Juno spacecraft enters the gas giant's orbit. And for the first time, NASA is handing the camera over to members of the public.

Now playing: Watch this: Welcome to Jupiter! Juno enters orbit to bring stargazers...

NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016.


Jupiter, meet Juno, your visitor from Earth for the better part of the next two years.

This Fourth of July, while the rest of America was busy eating hotdogs and lighting fireworks (hopefully not at the same time), the dedicated scientists and engineers of NASA were once again putting in the long hours, this time to bring us never-before-seen pictures of Jupiter.

Now that NASA has taken us there, all of us have a chance to get in on the action.

After five years of preparations and another five years hurtling solo through space, the solar-powered Juno spacecraft on Monday entered Jupiter's orbit, ahead of 20 months circling the gas giant. In that time, Juno will make 37 trips around Jupiter, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit the planet's poles, getting within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) of the cloud tops.

And, for the first time, NASA is handing the camera over to the public to take part in some very cool citizen science. As part of the mission, members of the public will be able to choose points of interest for the spacecraft's JunoCam to capture in color photos, before getting a chance to process them and share them online.

Juno performed "a suspenseful orbit insertion maneuver" to get close to Jupiter, with a 35-minute burn of its main engine slowing the spacecraft by roughly 1,212 mph (542 m/s) so it could go into orbit around Jupiter.

After a tense wait, there were cheers as the team confirmed that the burn was a success and Juno had entered the correct orbit. The appropriate first words from the NASA team?

"Juno, welcome to Jupiter!"

It's another milestone for NASA, which has spent the past year celebrating its fair share of achievements in space science. Almost a year ago to the day, NASA's New Horizons space probe conducted its eagerly anticipated Pluto fly-by, zooming past the dwarf planet at 30,000 mph and sending back brilliant images and data.

Now it's Jupiter's turn. NASA said Juno will provide "new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet's core, composition and magnetic fields."

NASA even took some passengers along for the ride, commissioning Lego to create three custom minifigs (from special space-grade aluminum, of course) to take along. The astronomer Galileo, the Roman goddess Juno and the Roman god Jupiter are now in orbit and taking in a fantastic view of Jupiter.


NASA sent custom aluminum Lego minifigs of Galileo, Juno and Jupiter aboard its spacecraft.

NASA/Screenshot by Claire Reilly/CNET

NASA turned off scientific instruments ahead of Monday's operation, so we won't see images straight away. But Juno has already been busy delivering data back to Earth, sending its first photograph of Jupiter and four of its moons last week, before beaming back an eerie audio track as it crossed into the planet's magnetic field.

Speaking Monday, NASA's Geoff Yoder said the mission highlighted the talents of the entire NASA and Jet Propulsion Lab teams.

"It feels great, this is phenomenal," he said. "This is just one step in a lot of firsts for the Jupiter mission."

After traveling millions of miles since 2011, Juno is about to show us Jupiter in full color.

Editors' note: This story was updated several times with details of Juno's arrival in orbit around Jupiter.