Nasa will this week launch a brand new satellite into the orbit of the biggest planet in our Solar System. This new spacecraft will aid humans in understanding more about Jupiter and her atmospheric moods.
Juno, as the satellite is named, is due for launch on 5th August 2011 with a window of 3 weeks allowing for any launch complications. The craft will propel out of the Earths atmosphere attached to an Atlas Rocket, numbered V551, from a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida.
Juno will career towards Jupiter, once being detached from the rocket, at nearly 160,000 miles per hour. However astonishing this speed is, the craft will still take 5 years to reach its destination circling above the dangerous atmosphere of the fifth planet from the Sun.
Jupiter is a strange and inhabitable place that consists of toxic storms of gas and lightning that ravage its structure. The planet is just over 483 million miles away from the Sun making its freezing temperatures reach -160 degrees Celsius. Which is shy of the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth doubled. Jupiter is 318 times the mass of Earth stretching out over a distance of 88,000 miles.
Jupiter’s surface atmosphere is dominated by what is known as the Great Red Spot. This ‘Spot’ is actually 3 times the size of our planet and is made up of a giant storm that has been ravaging Jupiter since records began. With a complex consistency of Water, Methane, Ammonia and Hydrogen this spot, as well as the rest of Jupiter, is thought to render the planet completely lifeless. So Juno will not be alien hunting on its long journey to the planet.
What Juno will be helping scientists with is, understanding even more about its bizarre atmosphere, the planets gravity and magnetic fields along with how the magnetosphere and Auroras behave at the planets polar regions. With state of the art cameras and sampling equipment on board this should be the only thorough cross section we need of Jupiter, at least for the time being. The craft is a lot bigger than you would think, reaching a height of 14 feet with a panel span of 66 feet, when fully retracted. Juno will be the first ever solar paneled space craft to be released into the Outer Solar System when its launch period opens on Friday.
Scott Bolton, the missions chief investigator says ‘…the team is really excited that the final days of preparation, which we’ve been looking forward to for years, are finally here. We are ready to go’.
After Juno has completed its 10 year mission of reaching Jupiter and conducting 33 orbits around this gigantic planet, it will send its last transmission before being plummeted purposely towards the surface to be broken apart in its storm system. By that time the knowledge that the satellite would have communicated will be forever essential in our understanding of the solar system and beyond.
For 3D information detailing the craft itself visit: