VIEW: JUNO MISSION NASA TV CONTINUOUS COVERAGE LIVE TODAY! 10:30 PM Eastern Juno Spacecraft Enters Polar Orbit Around Jupiter





The countdown is on for the Juno spacecraft to reach its destination at Jupiter in a matter of hours after a five-year journey, the first solar-powered spacecraft to travel this far from the sun. This evening, July 4, Juno will fire its main engine for 35 minutes, placing it into an eccentric polar orbit around the gas giant. At its closest approach, Juno’s orbit will pass a mere 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers) from Jupiter’s cloud tops, closer than any previous spacecraft, and it will be moving at roughly 129,000 mph (65 kps), faster than any previous man-made object.

At that altitude, the probe will be subjected to the harshest radiation environment in the solar system. Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field surrounds the planet with a doughnut-shaped field of high-energy electrons, protons, and ions traveling at nearly the speed of light.




Juno will orbit the gas giant 37 times over the next 20 months, with the goal that it will collect data and images that offer clues to the origins of our solar system and the formation of the planets and moons. It will be only the second time that a probe has gone into orbit around the giant planet.

The critical moment will be the end of the engine burn, at 11:53 p.m. Eastern time. NASA Television will begin coverage at 10:30 p.m.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA



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