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Juno's 35-Minute Engine Burn Will Allow Jupiter's Gravity to "Capture" Spacecraft

Jul 04, 2016 11:10 PM EDT
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Juno, launched in August 2011, will enter Jupiter's orbit by completing an engine burn to slow down its movement, allowing the planet's gravity to capture the spacecraft. 

Juno, the solar-powered spacecraft, is known to be the fastest spacecraft ever made. Ironically, the fastest spacecraft needs to slow down to be able to enter the orbit of its would-be host planet, Jupiter. Juno's entry into orbit is considered the most dangerous part of the mission.

According to NASA, Juno's simple communication broadcast system will not give scientists a front view while the orbit entry occurs. The spacecraft will send a signal saying that it is ready for entry and a little more than 35 minutes later, it will send another signal saying that is successfully entered the orbit.

Juno approaches Jupiter with a speed of 250,000 kph and will burn its engine to slow itself down, according to ABC. This maneuver is difficult by itself what more if it's done in autopilot just like Juno's case? But NASA's scientists and engineers are ready and confident that Juno will make it despite harsh radiation and spiraling debris coming from the planet.

To enter orbit Juno will fire its main engine to start a 35-minute burn that will slow down Juno to be able to get caught in Jupiter's gravity. Juno's science team are working non-stop to make sure Juno will be able to pull off this intricate maneuver and insertion to Jupiter's orbit.

"We are ready," Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno said in a press release. "The science team is incredibly excited to be arriving at Jupiter.  The engineers and mission controllers are performing at an Olympic level getting Juno successfully into orbit. As Juno barrels down on Jupiter, the scientists are busy looking at the amazing approach science the spacecraft has already returned to Earth."

Scientists are excited to see images of the planet up close, saying that a planet spectacular when viewed from Earth is sure to mesmerize especially in images taken up close. Juno will circle the planet for 37 times in a span of 20 years above the planet's northern hemisphere as close as 2,600 miles (4,1000 kilometers).

 

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