NASA's Juno Spacecraft Successfully Arrives in Orbit Around Jupiter

Tuesday, 05 July 2016 - 5:06AM
Space
Solar System
Tuesday, 05 July 2016 - 5:06AM
NASA's Juno Spacecraft Successfully Arrives in Orbit Around Jupiter
After five years and some 1.7 billion miles, NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully, and most importantly, safely, reached its goal of Jupiter's orbit. Traveling at speeds of up to 165,000 mph, Juno had to enact a 35 minute thruster burn to ensure it slowed down sufficiently to enter the gas giants orbit. Had the burn not gone as planned, the spacecraft could have shot straight past its target, but at 11:53pm ET on July 4th, the Juno team received confirmation that the burn had been successful and the spacecraft had achieved Jupiter orbit insertion.



Opening quote
"You're the best team ever! We just did the hardest thing Nasa has ever done," said Scott Boulton, Principal Investigator on the Juno mission.
Closing quote

As the spacecraft's Twitter page was quick to point out, Juno is now officially the farthest solar-powered spacecraft from Earth. 


While this is a landmark moment in the history of both NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the real pay-off won't come for another few months. Juno won't actually begin official science operations until October – until then, the Juno team will perform the final testing and calibration of the spacecraft's systems and instruments. Over the next 20 months, Juno will orbit our Solar System's largest planet 37 times, sweeping lower and lower with every pass as it gathers vital information about the gas giant's atmosphere. As well as answering some long-standing questions about the planet itself, Juno will also help us understand how gas giants form, which in turn should help us learn more about the formation of our own planet and the solar system as a whole.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden hailed the achievement as the perfect way to celebrate America's special day.

Opening quote
"Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America's birthday another reason to cheer -- Juno is at Jupiter," said Bolden. "And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter's massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet's interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved."
Closing quote

Even search giant Google got in on the celebrations, dedicating today's 'Doodle' to Juno's achievements.



You can learn more about Juno's mission at NASA's Juno mission page.

Science
NASA
Space
Solar System

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