New Delhi: NASA's Juno spacecraft has arrived at its destination - Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, late Monday night after an almost five-year journey.
Juno, the first solar-powered mission to Jupiter, using its special instruments, will peer beneath the swirling clouds, unlocking secrets about the planet and the entire solar system.
Here are some of the important things to know about NASA's Juno mission, which is the most ambitious Jupiter probe yet:
- The Juno mission launched August 5, 2011 will help improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of the planet.
- Juno will map Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields to learn what the planet’s interior
- structure is like.
- Juno will help determine how much oxygen - whose most common form is in water - the planet holds. Some theories about Jupiter’s formation predict that the amount of oxygen in planet could weigh as much as 20 Earths!
- With its suite of science instruments, Juno will look deep into Jupiter's atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties.
- Juno mission will explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the planet's poles, especially the auroras - Jupiter's northern and southern lights.
- Once in orbit, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times during 20 months, coming within 3,100 miles (5,000 km) of the planet's cloud tops to make the most accurate measurements of Jupiter's gravitational and magnetic fields.
- It will take 14 days for Juno to complete each orbit, while Jupiter spins every 10 hours.
- Jupiter's intense harmful radiation will take a toll on Juno. Although the spacecraft's most sensitive electronics are housed within a titanium vault to withstand impacts, this extreme dose of radiation is destructive to electronics.
- Juno will be the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, following the Galileo probe which orbited from 1995-2003.
- Juno's mythical connection - the spacecraft's name comes from Greco-Roman mythology. The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, but his wife, the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and see Jupiter's true nature. Similarly, Juno spacecraft will also look beneath the clouds, helping us to understand the planet's structure and history.