Throughout a 20-month examine, Juno is predicted to circle the gasoline big in 37 egg-shaped orbits to measure microwaves radiating from contained in the planet’s thick ambiance, map its large magnetic area and conduct different experiments.
Scientists are significantly eager to find out how a lot water Jupiter comprises, a key to unlocking the origins of the most important celestial physique within the photo voltaic system after the solar.
Jupiter presently orbits the solar at a distance about 5 instances farther away than Earth, however it could have fashioned in a distinct location and migrated, gravitationally elbowing apart different planets alongside the way in which.
“One thing occurs that permits a star to be born after which afterwards the planets.
That ultimately results in us,” stated the mission’s lead scientist, Scott Bolton, an area physicist with the Southwest Analysis Institute in San Antonio, Texas.
Greater than half of the fabric left over from the formation of the solar 4.6 billion years in the past ended up in Jupiter, which has a circumference practically 11 instances greater than Earth’s and is itself orbited by 67 recognized moons.
Jupiter is made nearly totally of hydrogen and helium, the 2 easiest and most plentiful components within the universe, however the planet’s monumental mass generates such excessive strain that the supplies behave in sudden and unknown methods.
“We’re working in a brand new setting,” stated Frances Bagenal, a planetary scientist with the College of Colorado in Boulder.
“We don’t know the physics of how issues work at these excessive pressures.”
The Juno probe is called for the traditional Roman goddess, who was the spouse and sister of Jupiter, the mythological king of gods, and had the facility to see by clouds.
From vantage factors as shut as 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from the planet’s cloud tops, the spacecraft is to not solely seek for water however assess whether or not Jupiter possesses a dense core beneath its ambiance.
“We’re about to embark on an unbelievable journey,” Bolton stated throughout a information convention from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Juno, careening towards Jupiter at greater than 160,000 miles per hour (25,750 kph), over 200 instances the velocity of sound, has been programmed to fireside its braking rocket at 11:18 p.m on Monday to be able to gradual its course.
The rocket should be exactly positioned and burn for 35 minutes to cut back its velocity sufficient to permit it to be captured by Jupiter’s gravity and swing into orbit.
“If that doesn’t all go excellent, we fly previous Jupiter,” Bolton stated.
Just one different spacecraft, NASA’s Galileo house probe, has orbited Jupiter, circling the planet for eight years earlier than colliding with the gasoline big in 2003.
The primary spacecraft to fly previous Jupiter was NASA’s Pioneer 10 in 1973.
Juno, which is able to arrive at Jupiter after a journey of 5 years and practically 2 billion miles (3.2 billion km), is predicted to finish its mission because the Galileo probe did, crashing itself into the planet to keep away from potential contamination of Jupiter’s ocean-bearing moon, Europa, with any microbes carried by the spacecraft.