Planet Jupiter will come into sharper focus on July 4 as NASA's Juno spacecraft enters into its orbit at the closest point ever attempted. The space agency is planning a series of 37 flybys of the giant planet to set a new record, but the ambitious mission does not come without risk.
On July 4, the Juno mission will pass within 2,900 miles, or 4,667 kilometers, of Jupiter's cloud cover. The last time a spacecraft got anywhere near this close to Jupiter was in 1974 when the NASA Pioneer 11 mission got within 27,000 miles of the giant planet.
The spacecraft's main engines will turn on to guide Juno into a polar orbit in a move the National Geographic calls "a dramatic 35-minute insertion maneuver." The Juno spacecraft is about the size of a basketball court and as of today, the mission has some 8.6 million miles or just under 14 million kilometers to go before it reaches Jupiter.