Jupiter Welcomes Juno

For a year and a half at least.

Jupiter, after bombarding Juno with its hellish radiation, has finally allowed it to stick around. Kinda like an annoyed older sibling. The $1.1 billion mission that was launched on the 5th  of August,2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida was finally deemed successful.The recorded reaction of the scientists working on the Juno mission was uploaded by BBC and USA Today.

The spacecraft is solar powered and has travelled 1.8 billion miles over the course of 5 years in order to uncover the secrets of the universe. The spacecraft, which is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Progam, performed a series of steps involved in orbit-insertion that helped guide it into Jupiter’s orbit. It involved turning away from the sun in order to insert itself into Jupiter’s orbit in the first step. The second step involved fine-tune adjustments and switching to low-gain antenna. 22 minutes before the orbital insertion burn, the spacecraft spun down to 2 rpm from 5 rpm. This was done in order to stabilize it. At 8.18 PDT, Juno’s 35- minute main engine burn began to slow it down so that Jupiter’s gravity could pull it into orbit. The JOI (Juno Orbital Insertion) mission was completed on the evening of the 4th of July at 8.53 pm PDT . At this time, it was confirmed that the main engine burn was complete and the spacecraft was now orbiting the Jovian Planet.

Image Jupiter and it's moons taken by Juno
JunoCam’s final full-colour picture before closing in. The picture was obtained on June 29, 2016. Image Courtesy: NASA|Juno.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said:

Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter. And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.

One of the interesting features of Juno,besides the 18,698 individual solar cells that give it its energy and the titanium vault protection, is the JunoCam. Watch Candy Hansen talk about it here.

Juno will go on to study the magnetic poles of Jupiter so as to determine why it has such a strong magnetic field. It will also go on to study its atmosphere, its origin, and its evolution. The spacecraft has a suite of nine science experiments which will help it determine the amount of water and ammonia in the planet’s atmosphere, determine the existence of a solid core and even study its auroras. The  author can go on and on about Jupiter but it’s gonna be a long ass article.

All this information will help us gain insight into the formation of titanic planets, especially gaseous ones. This will further help us gain insight into the formation of the solar system and possibly, maybe, probably even our origins and our beginnings.