NASA’s Juno Enters Jupiter’s Orbit – Is this the Best Way to Celebrate Fourth of July!?!

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NASA’s Juno Enters Jupiter’s Orbit - Is this the Best Way to Celebrate Fourth of July?

NASA’s Juno Enters Jupiter’s Orbit – Is this the Best Way to Celebrate Fourth of July?

NASA’s Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. The best way to celebrate US Independence Day. Nineteen years (19) ago, the Mars Pathfinder mission landed the first Martian rover known as Sojourner. Then, on the same date, 11 years ago, the Deep Impact probe collided with the comet Tempel 1. It was an achievement described as “a mosquito hitting a 747.”

Circling Jupiter

On Monday, Independence Day, before nine p.m., Juno spacecraft of NASA began circling Jupiter, reaching the end of its five-year journey. Thus, for the NASA engineers, the celebration wasn’t only for Independence Day, but it was also an Orbital Insertion Day.

It was a risky maneuver as the spacecraft had to slow it down so the planet’s gravity could capture it. Scott Bolton, the scientist who was in charge of the project, said that the government agency did it again.

For the Juno project manager, Rick Nybakken, that moment was a make-or-break for the team after the 1.8-billion mile journey through space.

As it enters Jupiter’s gravity, the spacecraft will take risky dives beneath the intense radiation belts of the planet to study the gas giant.

But this mission to the gas giant is not the first time. Galileo project that ended in 2003 also spent its mission studying the gas giant, but it was five time times away than Juno will get.

The mission is to collect data on how the solar system formed. Going beneath the plant’s radiation belts will involve a lot of risks. The spacecraft will be exposed to radiation causing most modern electronics to fry. Thus, it will only dip once every two weeks. Every dip will be for a few hours. Doing so will help minimize exposure.

Juno is equipped with radiation-shielded titanium vault, which also houses the craft’s sensitive equipment.

The orbital insertion requires extreme precision, involving firing a rocket engine so that the spacecraft will slow down. If it did not work, the craft could have been flying off into space with speeds that are too high never to return.

That means, it has to fire the engine at the nighttime at the right place, which is not easy. Thankfully, Juno did follow the flight plan precisely and accurately.

Juno’s goal

“Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate 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. The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter also can provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.”

The executive for the Juno program said that they are going to bed not worrying what is going to happen tomorrow. It was indeed pretty amazing.

What do you think of this story? Were you as excited as the NASA engineers? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Author: Jane Danes

Jane has a lifelong passion for writing. As a blogger, she loves writing breaking technology news and top headlines about gadgets, content marketing and online entrepreneurship and all things about social media. She also has a slight addiction to pizza and coffee.

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