Juno mission: The historic Jupiter orbit insertion ends in celebration!
The spacecraft fired its main engine for 35 minutes and scrubbed 1,212 mph from its initial 37,000 mph velocity.
New Delhi: Five years ago in 2011, American space agency NASA launched its Juno spacecraft with the aim to explore the largest planet in our solar system – Jupiter.
It seems Juno's timing to reach its final destination couldn't be better, since it has made its historic entry into Jupiter's orbit on July 4th (EDT), which is American Independence Day.
Space enthusiasts got more reasons to celebrate, it appears, because, NASA and JPL broadcasted the crucial orbit insertion live, which started at around 10:30 PM ET.
The spacecraft fired its main engine for 35 minutes and scrubbed 1,212 mph from its initial 37,000 mph velocity. That gave it just the right speed to be captured into a 53-day orbit around the planet.
Juno will make two 53-day orbits, then do another engine burn to push it into a 14-day orbit, where the science will begin, as per Engadget.
The celebration quotient was high mainly because the mission put the scientists in a do-or-die situation. Why? Because, if the spacecraft had failed to place itself in the proper position in orbit, the mission would have been a lost cause.
Engadget explains that Juno had just one chance to make the crucial engine burn and achieve orbit -- if the motor failed, it'll go flying off into space. A miscalculation could also have elevated problems and sent it too close, as its first orbit would have put it at a very tight 2,900 miles from the top of Jupiter's atmosphere.
But, now that everything has fallen into place, be prepared to get privy to Jupiter's biggest secrets and also, high resolution images that will blow your mind!