In August of 2011 a NASA rocket launch occurred. The rocket carried the Juno spacecraft on top of it and hurtled it out into space. Ever since then, Juno has been traveling toward Jupiter. In July of this year (July 4th to be precise), Juno will arrive and settle into an orbit around the largest planet in our solar system where it will begin analyzing Jupiter and sending information back to NASA scientists on earth. It is expected that the spacecraft will orbit Jupiter for approximately 20 months and then be purposefully burned up in the upper atmosphere of the planet. NASA scientists expect the craft to render information about the amount of water in the atmosphere, measure cloud motions, map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields, and explore the northern and southern lights of the planet.
Once again, NASA is on the verge of amazing discoveries. We truly are in the golden days of planetary exploration. In 100 years people will look back on this time and see that it was very significant to our understanding of our place in the solar system. Humans have a healthy curiosity about our world and our universe. This is as it should be. When we look down at a blade of grass or look up into a starry sky, it is natural to wonder about how these things are made and the material out of which they are made. It is natural to ask questions about what is out there beyond what we can see with our naked eyes. Let’s celebrate this latest NASA achievement.
Timeline of the Juno Mission
- Launch - August 5, 2011
- Earth flyby gravity assist - October 2013
- Jupiter arrival - July 2016
- Spacecraft will orbit Jupiter for 20 months (37 orbits)
- End of mission (de-orbit into Jupiter) - February 2018