NASA's Juno Space Probe Successfully Enters Jupiter's Orbit

NASA has confirmed that its Juno spacecraft has successfully entered into orbit of the largest [...]


NASA has confirmed that its Juno spacecraft has successfully entered into orbit of the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. On July 4, the signal was received from 540 million miles away and officially confirmed the orbit was obtained.

The Juno team cheered and hugged as the message "Welcome to Jupiter!" flashed on the screen of the mission control center at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. Acting administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Geoff Yoder, stated "This is phenomenal," according to CNN.

The Juno team had to pull off a tricky maneuver in order to slow the probe down enough to allow it to be pulled into Jupiter's orbit. "It fired its main engine for 35 minutes, effectively hitting the brakes to slow the spacecraft by about 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second).

Juno, which was launched five years ago, is on a mission to study the composition and evolution of the distant planet of Jupiter. The spacecraft is a "robotic probe as wide as a basketball court," and will circle Jupiter a total of 37 times over the course of 20 months. The plan is for Juno to dive down to about 2,600 miles above the planet's dense clouds, according to CNN.

The spacecraft is the first to enter Jupiter's orbit since Galileo. On September 21, 2003, Galileo was deliberately crashed into Jupiter in order to protect one of the spacecraft's discoveries - a possible ocean beneath Jupiter's moon Europa.

Director of Interplanetary Missions at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Guy Beutelschies, mentioned, "Preliminary looks are that the spacecraft is performing well." Beutelschies and Lockheed Martin Space Systems were responsible for constructing the spacecraft.

Some researchers are of the belief that Jupiter was the first planet in the solar system to form, and that there could be much to learn from the planet such as clues regarding how the solar system evolved.

To stay up to date on the Juno space probe, follow NASA's Juno Mission on Twitter.