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NASA: Skywatchers will be Able to See Jupiter’s Largest Moons Using Just Binoculars

Keep an eye on the sky this month as the mighty Jupiter puts on a show.

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FILE - The planet Jupiter is shown with one of its moons, Ganymede (bottom), in this NASA handout photo, April 9, 2007. VOA

Keep an eye on the sky this month as the mighty Jupiter puts on a show. NASA says Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in June — so close that skywatchers will be able to see it with the naked eye, and even some of its largest moons using simple equipment.

“The solar system’s largest planet is a brilliant jewel to the naked eye, but looks fantastic through binoculars or a small telescope, which will allow you to spot the four largest moons,” the U.S. space agency posted on its website. Some might also “glimpse a hint of the banded clouds” that surround the planet, NASA said.

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NASA says Jupiter will make its closest approach to Earth in June. Pixabay

The best opportunity will be Monday when Jupiter, Earth and Saturn all fall into a straight line, an annual event called “opposition.” From June 14 to 19, amateur astronomers can see a “beautiful lineup” of the moon, Jupiter and Saturn, which will change each night as the moon orbits Earth.

ALSO READ: Trump Increases NASA Spending by $1.6 Billion With Goal of Returning to Moon

“While you’re out marveling at this trio, there’s a really neat astronomy observation you can attempt yourself, just by paying attention to the moon’s movement from night to night,” the agency added on its website.

For those who would like an even closer look at the largest planet in our solar system, NASA suggests visiting its website for images sent back by Juno, the spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter. (VOA)

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NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids In 2021

Ralph's infrared detectors are 2,000 pixels square, compared to New Horizons Ralph's 256 by 256, allowing for images with more detail.

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US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

 NASA’s Ralph, one of the most well-travelled scientific instrument, is set to explore Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids aboard the Lucy spacecraft in 2021, the US space agency said.

Ralph has made many discoveries since it first launched aboard the New Horizons spacecraft in 2006. Given a name and not an acronym, Ralph enables the study of the composition and atmospheres of celestial objects.

In 2021, the Lucy spacecraft will carry a near-twin of Ralph, called L’Ralph (“Lucy Ralph”), to investigate Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, which are remnants from the early days of the solar system, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

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Jupiter. Pixabay

The L’Ralph instrument suite will study this diverse group of bodies. Lucy will fly by six Trojans and one Main Belt asteroid, more than any other previous asteroid mission.

L’Ralph will detect the Trojan asteroids’ chemical fingerprints, the statement said.

L’Ralph allows scientists to interpret data provided by the Sun’s reflected light that are the fingerprints of different elements and compounds.

These data could provide clues about how organic molecules form in primitive bodies, a process that might also have led to the emergence of life on Earth.

L’Ralph needs to have many capabilities in a small, light body structure to keep the spacecraft efficient and the mission productive.

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L’Ralph needs to have many capabilities in a small, light body structure to keep the spacecraft efficient and the mission productive.Flickr

Its instrument suite contains the Multi-spectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) and the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA), both of which are fed by the same optics, meaning that Ralph can observe both visible and infrared wavelengths.

These dual capabilities are what makes Ralph and its cousin L’Ralph so special, according to Dennis Reuter, the instrument principal investigator for L’Ralph.

“Most instruments can image visible or infrared wavelengths, but L’Ralph can do both,” said Reuter.

Also Read: Mars Curiosity Rover Returns Back To Work: NASA

Compared to the Ralph that flies with New Horizons, Lucy’s L’Ralph has enhanced technology. It can detect a broader spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, it has a moving mirror that reflects light into L’Ralph instead of requiring movements of the entire spacecraft.

Ralph’s infrared detectors are 2,000 pixels square, compared to New Horizons Ralph’s 256 by 256, allowing for images with more detail. (IANS)