Juno spacecraft finally reaches Jupiter


Juno Mission News BriefingThe King of the solar system welcomed its guest finally on the night of July 4. After a five year journey, Juno spacecraft succeeded to overwhelm the scientists at NASA. At 11.18 ET a radio signal was transmitted to earth which confirmed that the engine has started. The engine stayed on for 35 minutes and managed to fit itself in the exact orbit which the managers of NASA had intended for.

Rick Nybakken, Juno Project Manager, held up a sheaf of papers. “We prepared a contingency communications procedure,” he said, just in case the engine didn’t fire and the mission was a failure. With a flourish, he tore it in half. “We don’t need it.”

The spacecraft captured the four moons of Jupiter, the Calisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io orbiting the giant planet. The photos were released as a videographer by NASA on the web which was incredible to see.

Scott Bolton, the mission’s principal investigator, said, “We just did the hardest thing NASA’s ever done.” “Everything about Jupiter is the most extreme,” he added.

There is no clue as of now on how the Jupiter actually looks from the inside. The discovery still remains a question for the scientists in NASA of whether it is rocky like the other planets of the solar system or gaseous like the sun.

“JunoCam could get a great image from under the clouds,” Bolton said. But, he added, as the spacecraft is hurled about in Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, its antenna will likely be wobbling too much to send that photo home. The mysterious giant of our solar system will retain some of its secrets yet.

The spacecraft is expected to collect the data for the next six months but its first science orbit will begin on November 2, after another engine burn.