Get ready for Juno to reach Jupiter

This year for us science nerds, the fourth of July isn’t going to entirely be about the independence of America and eating food outside in hot weather while watching fireworks. Nope, certainly not. This year is something much more – the long awaited Juno mission will finally flyby Jupiter.

On July 4th (about 18 days), the Juno spacecraft will finally find itself at the big gas planet, and run its main engine for roughly 35 minutes to fall into a polar orbit around Jupiter.

As cool as it sounds, it’s actually a lot more tricky than it seems. Unlike the Pluto flyby, Jupiter’s environment is extremely harsh and unforgiving. The planet’s rotation is so fast, one day is about 10 days long, so to speak. Because of this, a magnetic field is generated. This means that Jupiter has the hardest radiation environment in our solar system. This makes it really difficult for the spacecraft to survive through all of this. However, scientists are ready to take this risk.

“Over the life of the mission, Juno will be exposed to the equivalent of over 100 million dental X-rays, but, we are ready. We designed an orbit around Jupiter that minimizes exposure to Jupiter’s harsh radiation environment. This orbit allows us to survive long enough to obtain the tantalizing science data that we have traveled so far to get.” -Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (direct quote from source)

The point of the entire mission is to discover more about how the planet came to be, what its environment and atmosphere are like, and so much more.

( Source )

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