5 JULY 2016– The Juno mission launched August 5, 2011 arrived at Jupiter July 4, 2016 to orbit the planet for 20 months and collect data on the planetary core, map the magnetic field, and measure the amount of water and ammonia in the atmosphere.
The arrival of the space craft was cheered as a major triumph for NASA after the $1.1 billion Juno spacecraft successfully slipped into orbit around Jupiter on a mission to probe the origin of the solar system.
“We are in it,” hollered Scott Bolton, Nasa’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.
“You are the best team ever,” he told his colleagues at mission control. “You just did the hardest thing Nasa has ever done.”
The Juno project will help provide scientists trying to solve the mystery of what lies beneath the swirling storm clouds of Jupiter answers.
Little is known about the huge gas giant which is so big it can be seen from Earth without a telescope, and which produces the most spectacular auroras in the solar system.
Scientists are not even sure if there is a solid core beneath its turbulent atmosphere or what drives the enormous magnetic field which surrounds the planet. If the invisible magnetosphere glowed in visible light, it would appear twice the size of the full Moon from Earth.
The Juno spacecraft – named after the Roman goddess and wife of Jupiter – is packed with nine instruments capable of peering into the planet’s heart. It will fly 2,600 miles above the cloud tops – 3,000 miles closer to the surface than any other mission has ever achieved. (IMAGE:NASA)