By: Michaela Herman
Juno Mission: Last week Nasa’s Juno probe reached and started orbiting Jupiter, which is so cool!
After orbiting solo for over a decade, Jupiter will finally have a follower, and it took NASA’s Juno spacecraft over 1.8 billion miles and over five years to get there (CNN.com).
The Juno project cost about $1.1 billion dollars. The goal of the mission is to better understand Jupiter’s formation and evolution. NASA scientists are hopeful to answer questions such as if our solar system’s oldest planet has a solid core and to discover how the planet creates its colossal magnetic fields (CNN.com).
The significance of Juno’s arrival is not just as simple as “it worked!” Jupiter is twice as large as all of the other planets combined, and we haven’t truly even seen Jupiter yet. It has a dense layer of swirling clouds that blanket the planet, blocking us from seeing any further at just a glance (CNN.com). Juno is equipped with a microwave radiometer that can probe up to 342 miles below visible clouds (CNN.com). This radiometer will also be able to tell scientists how much water and ammonia is present in Jupiter’s atmosphere (CNN.com, Nasa.gov). This fact will help prove which planet formation theory is correct, or if new theories are needed (Nasa.gov). With Juno’s recent success, scientists are hopeful to uncover as much as possible! Thankfully, all of Juno’s tools are protected from Jupiter’s radiation belts by a titanium vault, so the information Juno records will be stored safely for scientists to study (CNN.com).
Juno is powered by three solar arrays, which can generate enough energy for Juno to reach speeds of up to 165,000 mph (CNN.com). Juno is planned to orbit Jupiter until February 2018, meaning about 30 trips around Jupiter (CNN.com) “Juno 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” (Nasa.gov). Clearly, NASA is excited. I know I am, too. It may be a small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind . . . or something like that.
Nothing like exploring the great big unknown!