Here Comes Jupiter
« Thread started on: Mar 5th, 2016, 11:11am »
NASA's Juno Spacecraft : Close Encounters with Jupiter
On March 8th, 2016 Earth and Jupiter will have a close encounter. The giant planet will be "up all night," soaring almost overhead at midnight and not setting until the sky brightens with the twilight hues of sunrise on March 9th. In July, the Juno mission will give us an even closer look.
Re: Here Comes Jupiter
« Reply #3 on: Jun 21st, 2016, 10:47am »
Juno to enter Jupiter orbit July 4
By Eleanor Imster in Human World | Space | June 21, 2016
Juno will fly closer to Jupiter than any spacecraft yet, into the harshest radiation environment in the solar system.
Artistís concept of NASAís Juno spacecraft making one of its close passes over Jupiter. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Less than two weeks from now Ė on the evening of July 4, 2016 Ė NASAís solar-powered Juno spacecraft will fire its main engine for 35 minutes, which will place the spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter. Itíll be the first craft to orbit Jupiter since Galileo, which arrived in 1995 and spent eight years in orbit. Itíll fly within 2,900 miles (4,667 km) of the cloud tops of our solar systemís largest planet.
Juno, an unmanned spacecraft the size of a basketball court, launched on August 5, 2011.
You can follow the Juno mission on Facebook and Twitter. Itís about to get exciting!
Juno has 37 close approaches to Jupiter planned. But, according to NASA scientists, getting this close to Jupiter comes with a price Ė one that will be paid each time Junoís orbit carries it close to the planetís cloud cover. Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, said in a statement:
"We are not looking for trouble. We are looking for data. Problem is, at Jupiter, looking for the kind of data Juno is looking for, you have to go in the kind of neighborhoods where you could find trouble pretty quick."
The source of the potential trouble is found inside Jupiter itself. According to the NASA statement:
"Well below the planetís cloud tops is a layer of hydrogen that is under such incredible pressure that it acts as an electrical conductor. Scientists believe that the combination of this metallic hydrogen along with Jupiterís fast rotation Ė one day on Jupiter is only 10 hours long Ė generates a powerful magnetic field that surrounds the planet with electrons, protons and ions traveling at nearly the speed of light."
The endgame for any spacecraft that enters this doughnut-shaped field of high-energy particles is an encounter with the harshest radiation environment in the solar system.
Rick Nybakken is Junoís project manager from NASAís Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Nybakken said:
"Over the life of the mission, Juno will be exposed to the equivalent of over 100 million dental X-rays. But, we are ready. We designed an orbit around Jupiter that minimizes exposure to Jupiterís harsh radiation environment. This orbit allows us to survive long enough to obtain the tantalizing science data that we have traveled so far to get."
Junoís orbit resembles a flattened oval. The spacecraft approaches Jupiter over its north pole and quickly drops to an altitude below the planetís radiation belts as it moves toward Jupiterís south pole. Each close flyby of the planet takes about the length of one Earth day.