Juno meets Jupiter: NASA’s giant mission to the giant planet hits its climax on video
Science & Technology

Juno meets Jupiter: NASA’s giant mission to the giant planet hits its climax on video

Every part about NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter is huge: the vacation spot (giant planet, duh!), the value ($1.1 billion), the journey time (5 years to cruise 1.8 million miles), even the photo voltaic panels (totaling 635 sq. ft in space, about the dimension of a one-bedroom residence).

And one among the greatest issues for us Earthlings is that you should use the small display on your smartphone to watch the mission attain its climax whilst you’re ready for the Fourth of July fireworks to start.

NASA shall be offering live video coverage of Juno’s orbital insertion maneuver, beginning at 7:30 p.m. PT Monday. Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California count on to hear that the bus-sized spacecraft efficiently executed Monday’s key engine burn at 8:53 p.m. PT.

If the engine firing goes unsuitable, the probe might zoom uselessly previous Jupiter, or enter the unsuitable orbit round the planet. However a profitable maneuver will set the stage for 20 months’ price of meticulously deliberate orbital observations.

Juno and its scientific devices are designed to research the giant planet’s magnetic discipline, its flux of energetic particles, its auroras and its inside construction at shut vary. At its closest, the orbiter will move inside 3,100 miles of the cloud tops.

“NASA has been to Jupiter earlier than, however by no means this shut,” Diane Brown, NASA’s Juno program government, stated Thursday at a news briefing.

That’s the key distinction between Juno and Galileo – NASA’s different huge mission to Jupiter, which orbited the planet and studied its moons from 1995 to 2003. The sorts of measurements that Juno is supposed to present are greatest executed from deep inside Jupiter’s magnetosphere.

Even throughout the method, Juno’s detectors have been monitoring the “roar” of radiation as the spacecraft plows by way of the magnetic discipline. Right here’s a video that converts the blasts of plasma waves right into a horror-movie soundtrack:

Juno’s microwave radiometers ought to have the opportunity to hint the presence of an unique materials referred to as liquid metallic hydrogen – and reveal whether or not Jupiter has a rocky core far beneath its clouds. The devices may also analyze the composition of the Jovian environment, keying in on the abundance of water and ammonia.

All these readings will assist flesh out the image that scientists have of the photo voltaic system’s creation greater than 4.5 billion years in the past. How did Jupiter and the different planets condense from the cloud of gasoline and mud that surrounded our toddler solar? How prevalent have been the chemical compounds that ultimately gave rise to life on Earth? These are the types of questions Juno’s information might reply.

There’s a digital camera aboard the spacecraft, in fact. However as a result of Juno orbits so shut to Jupiter, don’t count on the wide-angle photographs of Jupiter and its moons that we noticed throughout the Galileo mission. As an alternative, JunoCam shall be sending again full-color, medium-resolution views of the giant planet’s clouds.

“JunoCam is a singular aspect of the payload on this spacecraft, as a result of from the outset, its motive for being on the payload was to do outreach to the public,” JunoCam co-investigator Sweet Hansen, a researcher at the Planetary Science Institute, stated in a video about the experiment. JunoCam’s scientists shall be working with amateur astronomers to resolve the place to level the digital camera.

JunoCam isn’t the mission’s solely public outreach angle: Three Lego figurines, representing Jupiter, Juno and Galileo, have been positioned aboard the spacecraft only for enjoyable. And Apple Music has teamed up with NASA to produce a music video celebrating the mission, titled “Visions of Concord.” Apple can be providing a number of songs with Juno connections in a “Destination: Jupiter” part of iTunes.

Spaceflight all the time presents challenges, however Juno is working underneath greater than the common share.

When the spacecraft was being constructed, mission managers opted to go along with solar energy, slightly than the dearer and harder-to-acquire plutonium energy packs which can be usually used for probes heading to the outer photo voltaic system. That imply the of us who constructed the spacecraft at Lockheed Martin and Spectrolab (a Boeing subsidiary) had to push the envelope on solar-cell efficiency. Thanks to the probe’s three 30-foot-long photo voltaic arrays, Juno is the farthest-out mission to rely on the sun rather than radioactivity for its vitality.

The opposite huge problem has to do with a distinct type of radiation: the blast of energetic particles whipped up by Jupiter’s magnetic discipline.

“Over the lifetime of the mission, Juno shall be uncovered to the equal of over 100 million dental X-rays,” Rick Nybakken, Juno’s challenge supervisor at JPL, stated in a NASA mission preview. Juno is provided with titanium shielding and radiation-hardened wiring to address the blast. However NASA doesn’t count on the spacecraft to final for much longer than the 20 months which have been deliberate for the main mission.

When Juno’s work is finished, the spacecraft shall be programmed to plunge into Jupiter’s clouds, setting off a closing spherical of fireworks.

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