“Everything about Jupiter is extreme; it’s a planet on steroids” — Scott Bolton, Principal Investigator, Mission Juno
July 4th is a day of celebration, and not just for Independence Day! It is also the day that the spacecraft Juno will finally reach its destination Jupiter after a 5-year voyage. Juno should reach the planet’s orbit by tonight (July 4) and will then spend 18 months studying what lies beneath Jupiter’s thick cloud cover.
“During Juno’s orbit-insertion phase, or JOI, the spacecraft will perform a series of steps in preparation for a main engine burn that will guide it into orbit. At 6:16 p.m. PDT (9:16 p.m. EDT), Juno will begin to turn slowly away from the sun and toward its orbit-insertion attitude. Then 72 minutes later, it will make a faster turn into the orbit-insertion attitude.
After the main engine burn, Juno will be in orbit around Jupiter. The spacecraft will spin down from 5 to 2 RPM, turn back toward the sun, and ultimately transmit telemetry via its high-gain antenna.
Juno starts its tour of Jupiter in a 53.5-day orbit. The spacecraft saves fuel by executing a burn that places it in a capture orbit with a 53.5-day orbit instead of going directly for the 14-day orbit that will occur during the mission’s primary science collection period. The 14-day science orbit phase will begin after the final burn of the mission for Juno’s main engine on October 19.”
I had the great honor of filming some early interviews with Juno’s scientists and engineers leading up to the launch for the official Mission Juno website. In honor of this momentous occasion, I’m reposting a piece about the project.
(originally posted July, 31, 2013)