NASA's Juno Spacecraft Successfully Arrives in Orbit Around Jupiter
NASA (@NASA) July 5, 2016
As the spacecraft's Twitter page was quick to point out, Juno is now officially the farthest solar-powered spacecraft from Earth.
All rays on me. My solar panels now face the sun. I'm the farthest solar-powered spacecraft from Earth. #Jupiter— NASA's Juno Mission (@NASAJuno) July 5, 2016
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.
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.