This enhanced color view of Jupiter’s south pole was created by citizen scientist Gabriel Fiset using data from the JunoCam instrument on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/Juno Image GalleryOkay, this qualifies as an exciting week for me. NuSTAR is pointing at Jupiter at the same time as Juno (which took the amazing image above) is at it’s closest approach to Jupiter (also known as a “perijove”). Part of my job is figuring out how to target objects that move in the sky (Jupiter, the Sun, the Moon, etc), so this week is a bit of a test.
We ended up snapping a couple of images of the sky using a camera on NuSTAR that is co-aligned with the X-ray optics (meaning that it takes a picture of the sky in the same direction that NuSTAR is looking). This is what that camera sees:
Did you see it? The big bright blog in the center is Jupiter (happily not moving) while the background stars are moving. !! Well, okay, poo poo if you like, but I call that a win. (the little specks in the background also not moving are hot pixels on the sky camera, not stars).
The NuSTAR X-ray cameras see a much smaller slice of the sky than the image that I’m showing above (they only see a little square around the Jupiter), so it’s pretty important to try to make sure that you’re tracking the source over the couple of days of the observation. For Jupiter, things don’t move that much. Things that are closer (like the Sun and the Moon) move a lot faster.
Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s not terribly exciting watching some blobs move and others not move. It’s really just an excuse for me to show the Juno image.