Juno Has Arrived, Begins Orbit in Jupiter
NASA scientists celebrated a different Fourth of July high, as the Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter's orbit after a five-year journey to the giant gas planet.
Juno, the fastest solar-powered spacecraft ever made, was launched in August 2011 and finally entered Jupiter's orbit on 8:53 pm of July 4 after a 35-minute engine burn.
"Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America's birthday another reason to cheer -- Juno is at Jupiter," NASA administrator Charlie Bolden said in a press release. "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," Bolded added.
The mission team was highly praised by Bolden saying that the team and the spacecraft did great despite all of them getting stuck inside the mission control on the Fourth of July when most Americans are merrymaking.
The calculated and sensitive engine-burn was conducted to slow down the spacecraft and change its rotation, at the same time stabilizing Juno for the insertion. The engine burn decreased Juno's velocity by 1,212 miles per hour so that Jupiter's gravity was able to capture the spacecraft. Juno turned to the Sun after the engine burn to harvest energy for its 18,698 solar cells.
Juno's confirmation that says it had already entered orbit is a simple signal broadcasted from 540 miles across in the Solar System.
"Through tones Juno sang to us and it was a song of perfection," Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager said in a statement published by CNN.
Now that Juno is safely orbiting the planet and harvesting energy from the Sun to accomplish its mission of understanding the composition of the giant gas planet, scientists are anticipating data that will be collected from the spacecraft's up close and personal encounter with the planet.
NASA released a fascinating video of Juno's approach to the planet and both the experts and the public are anticipating more videos from the giant planet.