Everything you need to know about NASA's 'Juno Mission'

This July 4th may be the most stellar since 1776. NASA’s Juno spacecraft is quickly approaching Jupiter, the largest gas giant in our solar system, reaching speeds of 150,000 miles per hour, assisted by the planet’s huge gravitational pull. Juno is currently headed toward Jupiter’s north pole and is expected to reach the Jovian planet’s orbit by roughly 9 p.m. PDT tonight.

Was it a success? Watch live here:

 

 

JUNO to JUPITER: Here We Come!

It’s almost nail biting time here at JPL. Juno finally moving into the most frightening part of its journey to Jupiter. The insertion into the planets orbit. By all accounts this could be dicey. There’s a reason scientists on this mission call Jupiter a big bad planet. It has the harshest environment of any planet and at 7:30 tonight the final leg of the journey scientists have all been waiting for begins as Juno enters an atmosphere so unpredictable because of the millions of electrons moving at the speed of light.

Heidi Becker is the Lead Radiation Investigation She says,“These are high energy electrons that are so energetic that they’re moving at the speed of light."

She compares them to machine gun bullets and says there will be millions of them.

If all goes as planned at 7:30 Juno will arrive over the planet’s North Pole. An engine burn will take place at 8:18 pm (Pacific Time) to slow the spacecraft. The burn will be completed at 8:53 and, then, at 9:30 pm Juno will turn toward the sun. Since this is a solar powered probe if there is no power Juno can't operate.

By the way, Juno is carrying what may be the world's most valuable legos. Three titanium pieces of Galileo, Jupiter and Jupiter's wife/sister Juno. We're told these are one of a kind pieces.

This mission’s goal is to peer beyond Jupiter’s dense cloud coverage and discover more about the gas giant’s origins, atmosphere, magnetosphere and structure. Juno could even help NASA learn more about the beginnings of our solar system, as it is believed that Jupiter was one of the first created comprising much of the same light gases found in the sun.

 

A spacecraft has never flown this close to Jupiter, so as this long-awaited moment nears, here is everything you need to know about NASA’s Juno mission:

 

  • The Juno spacecraft itself is 3,513 pounds and is carrying with it 1,658 pounds of fuel.

  • Juno is the first spacecraft and mission designed to operate in the heart of Jupiter’s radiation belts. To put that in perspective, the cosmic radiation Earth is exposed to from space is about .39 RAD (Radiation Absorbed Dose). Juno is expected to encounter 20 million RAD Juno at Jupiter.

  • The gas giant’s magnetic field is 14 times stronger than Earth’s.

  • Juno will take the highest resolution images of the largest Jovian planet in history.

  • Juno is the first space mission that will orbit an outer planet from north to south poles.

  • Juno is the first mission to operate a solar-powered spacecraft at the Jovian planet.

  • Will be the fastest spacecraft to enter orbit around a planet, at 130,000 mph (129,518 mph/57.9 km/s) relative to Earth.

  • Juno will be the first mission to fly as close as 2,600 miles to Jupiter’s cloud tops.

  • If Juno flew as fast as a commercial jet it would take 342 years to complete its entire mission.

  • The planet has storm systems that can rage on for long periods of time, one of them being the notable Great Red Spot which is twice as wide as our blue planet.

  • Jupiter is a giant ball of gas 11 times wider than earth and takes 12 years to orbit the sun.

  • The initial launch of Juno was August 5, 2011.

  • Juno will orbit Jupiter for 20 months which equals 37 of Jupiter’s orbits.

 

Great Information Video from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

 

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