New Delhi: NASA's Juno spacecraft will make its closest approach to Jupiter on Saturday (August 27, 2016) at 5:51 a.m. PDT (8:51 a.m. EDT, 12:51 UTC)
At the moment of closest approach, Juno will be about 2,500 miles (4,200 kilometers) above Jupiter's swirling clouds and traveling at 130,000 mph (208,000 kilometers per hour) with respect to the planet, says NASA.
The probe, which was launched to the giant plant in early July, will have 35 more close flybys of Jupiter during its prime mission. But the August 27 flyby will be the first time Juno will have its entire suite of science instruments activated and looking at the giant planet as the spacecraft zooms past.
"This is the first time we will be close to Jupiter since we entered orbit on July 4," said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
"This is our first opportunity to really take a close-up look at the king of our solar system and begin to figure out how he works," Bolton said.
Apart from Juno's suite of eight science instruments, the spacecraft's visible light imager -- JunoCam will also be snapping some closeups of the giant gas.
NASA expects to release a handful of JunoCam images, including the highest resolution imagery of the Jovian atmosphere and the first glimpse of Jupiter's north and south poles during the later part of next week.
"No other spacecraft has ever orbited Jupiter this closely, or over the poles in this fashion," said Steve Levin, Juno project scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
The Juno spacecraft launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, will improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter.