NASA's Juno spacecraft will fly closer to Jupiter than any other mission before it.
It’s a mission five years in the making, and in just two days time, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter.
What will it find? It’s anyone’s guess. But one thing’s for sure: on Independence Day, we will fly closer to Jupiter than ever before, and hopefully reveal some amazing secrets about this giant in our solar system.
Juno is closing in on Jupiter, where it is scheduled to arrive on July 4. The 1.7 billion-mile journey will have come to an end, and if all goes well, Juno will remain in orbit for 20 months to measure and observe Jupiter. After that, it will finish its mission by plunging deep into its brutal atmosphere to grab some last bits of data as deep into the planet as possible before the spacecraft is ripped apart by the extreme forces there.
Jupiter is 300 times more massive than Earth and has a magnetic field 14 times more powerful. It is a gas giant, which means it doesn’t have a solid surface like on Earth. Understanding Jupiter could help us better understand our solar system, and the creation of the universe itself.
“Juno’s trip to Jupiter will take a total of about five years,” a NASA statement reads. “Though the journey may seem long, this flight plan allows the mission to use Earth’s gravity to speed the craft on its way. The spacecraft first looped around the inner solar system, and then, two years after launch in 2013, it swung past Earth to get a boost to propel it onward to its destination. In July 2016, Juno will fire its main engine and slip into orbit around the giant planet to begin its scientific mission.”