NASA’s Juno spacecraft will enter into Jupiter’s orbit on July 4th after completing a distance of 2.8 billion kilometers. The solar-powered spacecraft will gather information about the planet and its formation.
The spacecraft is inching closer to Jupiter with a 4 miles/second speed. It will carry out its Jupiter orbit insertion operation by doing a 35-minute engine burn, which will slow down its speed by about 1,200 mph.
“But Jupiter’s gravity is tugging at us harder every day and by the time we arrive we’ll be accelerated to 10 times that speed — more than 40 miles per second (nearly 70 kilometers per second) — by the time our rocket engine puts on the brakes to get us into orbit,” Fox News reported Scott Bolton, the principal investigator for Juno and the director of the space sciences department at Southwest Research Institute in Texas saying.
According to NASA, the spacecraft will orbit 37 times around the planet during 20 months, sailing above the cloud tops within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers).
The craft was successfully set off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011. It will study the core, composition and magnetic fields of Jupiter, giving more information about the origin of solar system. Moreover, it will analyze whether Jupiter has a solid core or not. It is equipped with 8 high-tech instruments to study planet’s atmosphere.
Before Juno, Galileo was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. It was launched in 1989 and was carried by Space Shuttle Atlantis, orbiting Jupiter from 1995 to 2003.
Juno’s arrival is a significant step which will unravel a more detailed landscape of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
On Thursday, June 16, NASA will organize a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT to discuss the Juno’s arrival. It will be held in the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, Washington, and will be live streamed on NASA Television and the agency’s website.