NASA Spacecraft in Jupiter’s orbit 0%/100% 142

NASA Spacecraft in Jupiter’s orbit

Written by Aravind   |   Posted: 07/05/2016 12:21 PM IST

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has successfully entered the orbit around Jupiter to explore its cloud-covered atmosphere and interior makeup. Juno fired its main engine beginning at 11:18 p.m. EDT/0318 Tuesday GMT, slowing the spacecraft so that it could be captured by the planet's gravity. Launched from Florida nearly five years ago, Juno has to be precisely positioned, ignite its main engine at exactly the right time and keep it firing for 35 minutes to become only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter.

"We are learning about nature, how Jupiter formed and what that tells us about our history and where we came from," said Juno lead scientist Scott Bolton, with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

Juno will fly in highly elliptical orbits that will pass within 3,000 miles (4,800 km) of the tops of Jupiter's clouds and inside the planet's powerful radiation belts. Juno's computers and sensitive science instruments are housed in a 400-pound (180-kg) titanium vault for protection.

During its 37 orbits around Jupiter, Juno will be exposed to the equivalent of 100 million dental X-rays, said Bill McAlpine, radiation control manager for the mission. The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, is expected to last for 20 months. On its final orbit, Juno will dive into Jupiter's atmosphere, where it will be crushed and vaporized.

By Premji

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Tags : NASA’s Juno spacecraft  Jupiter  atmosphere  Florida  

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