NASA's Jupiter-Bound Juno Spacecraft Enters Jupiter's Gravitational Boundary
Juno is NASA's Jupiter-bound spacecraft which is expected to reach Jupiter's orbit in July this year. Due to its proximity to the target planet, Juno was able to beam back tons of information about Jupiter.
With only less than 100 days to reach the target, scientists are anticipating more data from the spacecraft. Currently, Juno just crossed the gravitational boundary of the Sun and Jupiter and had already entered the Jupiter's realm.
Juno was launched in 2011 and ever since, the spacecraft is being pulled by three forces within the Solar System, from the Earth, Sun and Jupiter. But today, Juno crossed the other boundaries and entered into Jupiter's gravitational pull.
"As of tomorrow (May 28), and for the rest of the mission, we project Jupiter's gravity will dominate as the trajectory-perturbing effects by other celestial bodies are reduced to insignificant roles, said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager in a press release.
The main goal for launching Juno is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Up until today, there is a lack of detailed study regarding the planetary core, magnetic field, water measure and the ammonia content of the planet.
To complete its mission, Juno is also equipped with a color camera called JunoCam, which is an interactive camera where people can actually get involved in the imaging process.
"This is really the public's camera. We are hoping students and whole classrooms will get involved and join our team," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator said in a statement.
Juno will enter the orbit of Jupiter and will then circumnavigate the planet for 37 times which is about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the planet. The first Jupiter mission was performed by Galileo, a nuclear-powered spacecraft, according to a report by Space.com. Juno, unlike Galileo, uses solar energy.
The flybys will provide NASA scientists with data about the planet's auroras so they can study its origin, structure and atmosphere.