After being launched in August 2011, the mission of Juno on Jupiter is less than a month away from its start. The spacecraft is due to reach its final destination on July 4th.
The primary purpose of the mission of Juno on Jupiter is to gather relevant data about the planet, its atmosphere and the way it was formed. Since Jupiter is one of the oldest planets in our Solar System, such information will provide significant insight into the way our solar system came to life.
The mission of Juno on Jupiter will be closely related to the understanding of the planet`s composition and evolution since its birth. Scientists believe this planet has a similar composition to the Sun. One of the NASA experts in charge of the project made an official statement, which explains it:
“Like the sun, Jupiter is mostly hydrogen and helium, so it must have formed early, capturing most of the material left after our star came to be,”
So due to its age, all the information gathered will shed light on other aspects that will help explain vital parts in the Solar System`s genesis.
At this moment, the spacecraft is 24 days away from its final destination. Traveling at a speed of 4 miles per second, Juno is 11.1 million miles away from Jupiter. Its mission will be to establish how much water Jupiter`s atmosphere contains. The composition of the planet and its temperature will also be studied. Another important part is to analyze the magnetic field and gravity forces on Jupiter.
However, according to NASA experts, the hardest part of this trip to Jupiter is yet to come. The closer the spacecraft gets to Jupiter, the higher the gravitational forces pulling Juno towards the planet will become. Therefore, the most complicated part will be a high-speed maneuver to stabilise the spaceship on Jupiter`s orbit, as Scott Bolton from Southwest Research Institute explains:
“Jupiter’s gravity is tugging at us harder every day and by the time we arrive, we’ll be accelerated to 10 times the regular 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.”.
And the challenges awaiting Juno do not end here. Once it reaches its destination, the spacecraft will orbit the planet for two years. NASA experts say that the information will open the way to new missions that will be able to incorporate the data in order to get closer to the planets of our solar system and observe them thoroughly.
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