NASA's Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter next July

Pluto is getting all the attention at the moment, and Ceres is also still capturing attention, but NASA is already eyeing the future and that future will include a close-up look at Jupiter. The space agency will be getting a close look via its Juno spacecraft, and it announced this week Juno's arrival date: July 4, 2016, less than a year from now. As with some of its other missions, NASA is hoping to find out how the planet formed and some information on its structure.

The Juno mission has been underway for four years now, and so the sub-year timeframe for when the spacecraft arrives at Jupiter is exciting. NASA says its Juno team is preparing for Juno's arrival and for the data it will be sending back. The spacecraft will end up within "a few thousand miles" of Jupiter's cloud tops.

The spacecraft will have different tasks once it arrives — it will be doing a fair bit of mapping, including mapping of the atmosphere's water vapor and gravity fields. We'll also be seeing some never-before-seen images of the planet as Juno explores the yet-unexplored regions at Jupiter's poles.

Juno is set to complete a full revolution of the planet every two weeks, a timeframe that is slightly slower than the previously allotted 11 days. In addition, Juno will complete two more orbits than planned at 32, and its mission will last for five extra months at 20 months total.