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WIll Juno Survive Jupiter's "Hellish" Radiation as Powerful as 100 Million Dental X-rays?

Jul 04, 2016 08:27 AM EDT
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Juno will enter Jupiter's orbit on the night of the Fourth of July celebration. This momentous event will mark the day Jupiter was seen as close as possible by a man-made and solar-powered spacecraft.

Juno will reveal secrets of Jupiter's composition and magnetic field and hopefully, answer the question of whether or not if the gas planet has a solid core. But in order to do that, Juno has to withstand Jupiter's "hellish" radiation level that experts compare to 100 million dental x-rays.

Juno will enter Jupiter's orbit past 8:00 pm on July 4. The spacecraft will get a taste of the planet's "hellish" radiation the moment it gets into orbit through a calculated and complex breaking maneuver.

Jupiter is known as the "biggest and baddest" planet in the Solar System due to its high level of radiation. Huge levels of electrons are accelerated due to the planet's massive magnetic fields, 20,000 times more powerful than the Earth. Experts call it as Jupiter's slingshot weapon turning objects caught on its radiation ring into a weapon spiral in high-speed in space.

"Once these electrons hit a spacecraft, they immediately begin to ricochet and release energy, creating secondary photons and particles, which then ricochet," Heidi Becker, Juno scientist said in a statement published by Space.com. "It's like a spray of radiation bullets," Becker added.

NASA scientists tried to simulate the radiation levels surrounding Jupiter in a radiology treatment room in a Parisian hospital. "It's kind of like cat burglars in the middle of the night, stealing electrons," Becker said, the lead engineer for the mission's radiation monitoring experiment in a statement.

Juno, the solar-powered spacecraft, survive the 1.8 billion-mile journey to reach its destination planet since it was launched in 2011. Experts are confident that Juno will be able to withstand radiation as powerful as 100 million x-rays because it is designed just like an "armored tank" with titanium vaults protecting its main components.

Juno is expected to orbit the planet for 37 times or for about two years, and during those times, the spacecraft should be able to endure the radiations emitted by the planet. After the mission, Juno will self-destruct in February 2018.

The data to be observed by Juno is expected to provide clues to the formation of the Sun and the Solar System.

 

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