After the long travel of 5 years and 1.8 billion miles, NASA spacecraft Juno Probe has transmitted a sequence of tone confirming it has reached Jupiter and started orbiting to mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. The Juno team burst in wild cheering and hugging.
“Welcome to Jupiter” flashed on screens at mission control.
Juno Probe was launched on August 5th, 2011 to study the interior composition to unlock the mysteries of how solar system is formed 4.6 billion years ago. It’s the first spacecraft since the Galileo which was crashed on September 21, 2003, after discovering a possible ocean beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa.
In order to enter the orbit Juno has to undergo a complex maneuver of slowing down the spacecraft by about 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second) allowing it to be pulled into orbit.
“Preliminary looks are that the spacecraft is performing well,” said Guy Beutelschies, Director of Interplanetary Missions at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the company that built the spacecraft.
Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno on Earth at 8:53 pm. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4, just another for fireworks to burst into air on Independence day.
“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 NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system is its mass is 2.5 times that of all the planets combined. Researchers also think it is the first planet to form when solar system was formed 4.6 billion years ago. Scientists think Jupiter is the best place to research assuming its holds clues of how this giant system is formed four and half billion years ago.
Scientists believe Jupiter consist of a dense core with a mixture of many gases, a surrounding layer of liquid metallic hydrogen with some helium, and an outer layer predominantly of molecular hydrogen. Beside from this information the rest of Jupiter internal structure is still unknown. Juno equipped with suite of nine science instruments, it will investigate and report back the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras.
Juno is a spinning spacecraft as wide as a basketball court. It will circle in Jupiter’s orbit 37 times for 20 months, diving down to about 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers) above the planet’s dense clouds. Apart from its suite of instruments it consists of an onboard color camera called “JunoCam” which will take high definition color images of the huge planet.
As a symbol of inspiration for children to study math and science the Juno Probe on boards three 1.5 inch Lego figurines of Galileo Galilei – a scientist and astronomer who invented Telescope and many other instruments and first discovered Jupiter. And other two of Roman god Jupiter and his wife Juno.
The Juno probe is currently orbiting Jupiter and the mission is expected to end on February 20, 2018, when Juno is to crash into Jupiter.