So it might be the fourth of July, but there is no rest for the scientist and engineers who have been very bust successfully getting their Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter. Launched in 2011 and spending almost five years in transit the NASA plucky spacecraft has covered 1.7 billion miles or 2.7 billion kilometers and is now in orbit around the biggest planet in our solar neighborhood.
After a 35-minute burn of its main engine the spacecraft’s load itself at a rate of one thousand two hundred and twelve miles per hour, getting caught by Jupiter’s gravity at orbiting speed.
For backyard astronomers at NASA, it will also provide an incredible opportunity to have a closer look at Jupiter’s cloud without the clouds on our planets getting in the way. It’s not all travel snaps and postcards though over the next 20 months Juno will make 37 orbits around Jupiter measuring the temperature, water content, and composition of the planet’s atmosphere.
The spacecraft will also study the Jupiter’s magnetic and gravitational field revealing the internal structure of a gaseous neighbor. NASA not only hopes to get a better understanding of Jupiter’s origin and formation but also wants to understand how solar system like our own, develop and take shape.