Juno is a spacecraft launched in 2011 that entered into Jupiter’s orbit in 2016 to peer into the mystical clouds and unravel its stories of evolution and formation.
Scientists have been ever curious about the vast solar system; planets’ origins, formation of planetary systems, and especially the gas giant Jupiter have been a subject of deep interest and enigma. Juno Mission seeks to explore the yet-to-be-discovered intriguing facts about the solar system’s largest planet Jupiter.
The team at NASA has put several top-notch scientific instruments (magnetometer, ultraviolet imaging spectrograph, microwave radiometer, and many others) into place in order to achieve a certain set of objectives.
So let’s now know what the JUNO mission is all about, how it got its name, what are its objectives, and what astonishing discoveries have been made so far.
The name “Juno” finds its origins in ancient Roman folklores. According to these myths, Juno was Jupiter’s wife. Jupiter would hide behind the clouds so that nobody could see him creating trouble but it was Juno could see through the clouds.
And so the Juno spacecraft can see deep beneath the clouds of planet Jupiter. It is helping scientists in gaining a better understanding of Jupiter and other planets’ evolution.
The NASA spacecraft Juno was launched from Earth on 5 August 2011. After making deep space maneuvers in August-September 2012 and flyby of Earth in October 2013, it ultimately arrived at Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016.
Juno is the spacecraft that, for the first time, got this close to the dense cover of clouds so as to dig answers about this gas giant and our solar system’s origins. Juno's major goal is to unravel the story of Jupiter's evolution and formation with the help of long-proven technologies.
The mission is anticipated to deorbit into Jupiter through July 2018 for a total of 12 science orbits. (14.1)
The Juno spacecraft has made use of a suite of science instruments to achieve the following set of scientific objectives:
After looking at the first results, the scientists are startled as Jupiter doesn’t look anything from the poles like it does from the usual view or what was expected. It appeared uniform from the inside but it’s, in fact, very complex.
And interestingly enough, Jupiter is plausibly the first planet to have formed in the solar system. It consists of some of the ingredients of the collapsing nebula that led to the formation of the solar system. (14.2)
They even spotted and snapped the Great Red Spot that has been swirling for centuries. It’s about 10,000 miles wide and used to be even bigger earlier. Also, Jupiter’s auroras are a powerful mystery having humongous electric potentials around 10 and 30 times greater than any seen on Earth!
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