Jupiter Welcomes Juno

Published : Jul 06, 2016 12:06 am

On Monday July 4, 2016 NASA new frontiers mission the Juno Probe started orbiting Jupiter after it fired its engine to slow down and get caught by the Jupiter's gravity. Juno is the second mission following Galileo probe which orbited from 1995-2003.

Juno took off from the earth on August 5, 2011 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force station on the main objective to study the composition of the Jupiter's Gravity field, Magnetic field and polar magnetosphere. It took nearly five whole years for Juno to reach the Jupiter's orbit. Two years after the launch Juno took a elliptical heliocentric orbit to pass by earth in the October 2013 which causes the satellite to obtain a gravitational slingshot (usage of gravity to propel itself). this caused the spacecraft to obtain a speed of 150,000 KPH from 126,000 KPH.

Juno will now undergo 37 orbits as planned over 24 months before it gets disposed into Jupiter i.e around in February 2018 so that it does not contaminate any moons of the Jupiter.

Before Juno no spacecraft dared to go this close to Jupiter as its intense radiation can destroy the unprotected electronics. But Juno is shielded with 1cm thick titanium metal like a war tank to save its electronics from frying. In the present orbit Juno will travel for 53 days before starting the second burn in October this year which is when the real science operations start.

Repeated use of instruments and the camera will be done whenever the spacecraft gets closer to the Jupiter while orbiting. Presently the satellite is on its process of opening its solar panels facing the sun. Juno will only get 4% energy compared to the energy it will get while it is on earth. Juno was built by using the solar arrays which is normally used by the earth satellites rather than using radio isotopic generators which are used for the outer solar system missions.

This mission was originally proposed at the cost of $700 million USD but it is projected to reach a cost of $1.1 billion USD.

- By Abhinav Surapaneni