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NASA to Re-Activate Science Instruments on Juno Today to Capture Jupiter Closest Ever


Juno spacecraft’s orbits, including its two long, stretched-out capture orbits. The spacecraft’s position on July 31 is indicated at left.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA spacecraft Juno reached ‘Apojove’, the farthest point in Jupiter’s orbit after travelling for over five years on Sunday and began a frefall bowing to Jupiter’s gravitational force, expected to reach about 2,600 miles above the planet by the end of August.

Now that the Juno mission is there, NASA’s Scott Bolton, Juno’s Principal Investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said, “We are concentrating on beginning dozens of flybys of Jupiter to get the science we are after”.

To enable the freefall, the spacecraft’s science instruments were turned off and once the spacecraft enters into the Jupiter’s gravity, they will be turned on, said scientists. The Science mission of the spacecraft will be activated on Tuesday by NASA to collect the main parameters of the giant planet from a close fly-by operation.

Juno Launch date: August 5, 2011
Speed on orbit: 0.17 km/s
Max speed: 265,000 km/h
Orbit height: 4,300 km
Manufacturer: Lockheed Martin
Cost: $1.1 billion (2011)

Juno is currently executing the first of two long orbits prior to beginning its science mission and in two months, NASA scientists can glean at the data closely to study the surface of Jupiter.

Launched on Aug. 5, 2011, Juno took a long, looping path around the inner solar system to set up an Earth flyby, thereby achieving Earth’s gravity flung that lofted off the spacecraft onward toward Jupiter.

On Aug. 27, Juno is expected to finish its first lap around Jupiter, with a finish line that is closest pass over the gas giant, at 2,600 miles above the cloud tops. Once inside Jupiter’s orbit, Juno will fire its engine once more to shorten its orbital period to 14 days and launch its science mission.

Juno’s science instruments will then probe Jupiter’s deep structure, atmospheric circulation and the high-energy physics of its magnetic environment. What Juno finds there will reveal important clues about its formation and evolution.


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