MessageToEagle.com - NASA's Juno spacecraft is halfway to Jupiter. The Jovian-system-bound spacecraft
reached the milestone August 12, 2013 at 5:25 a.m. PDT (8:25 a.m. EDT/12:25 UTC).
It will arrive to Jupiter in July 2016 and then will start unlocking the secrets of the giant planet's atmosphere,
mapping Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the planet's poles, especially the auroras.
"Juno's odometer just clicked over to 9.464 astronomical units," said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton,
of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
Once Juno enters into its orbit, infrared and microwave instruments will begin to measure
the thermal radiation emanating from deep within Jupiter's dense atmosphere. These observations will
complement previous studies of the planet's composition by assessing the abundance and distribution of water, and
therefore oxygen. While filling missing pieces of the puzzle of Jupiter's composition, this data also
provides insight into the planet's origins.
"The team is looking forward, preparing for the day we enter
orbit around the most massive planet in our solar system."
For those astronomical-unitly challenged, an astronomical unit (AU) is a unit of measure used by space engineers
and scientists when discussing the massive distances involved in the exploration of our solar system - and beyond.
An AU is based on the distance between Earth and the sun and is 92,955,807.273 miles (149,597,870.7 kilometers) long.
The 9.464 astronomical units Juno has already traveled (or still has left to go) is equivalent to 879,733,760 miles
(or 1,415,794,248 kilometers).
Juno was 34.46 million miles (55.46 million kilometers) from Earth when the milestone
The next milestone in the nearly five-year journey to Jupiter will occur this October, when the spacecraft
flies past Earth in search of a little extra speed.
"On Oct. 9, Juno will come within 347 miles (559 kilometers) of Earth," said the mission's Project Manager Rick
Nybakken of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
"The Earth flyby will give Juno a kick in the pants,
boosting its velocity by 16,330 mph (about 7.3 kilometers per second). From there, it's next stop Jupiter."
Juno will arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, at 7:29 p.m. PDT (10:29 p.m. EDT).
A computer-generated image depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft, which reached the halfway point on its mission to Jupiter on August 12, 2013.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Juno was launched on Aug. 5, 2011. Once in orbit around Jupiter, the spacecraft will circle the planet 33 times, from pole to pole, and use its collection of eight science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud cover. Juno's science team will learn about Jupiter's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.
Juno's name comes from Greek and Roman mythology. The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife, the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator,
Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers
Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
The Wandering Stars
In ancient civilizations, people pondered the meanings of the stars, watching for clues to their survival: the beginning of planting and
harvesting times, the seasons, and even portents of danger.
They soon noticed that certain stars didn't stay in place, but wandered amongst the fixed star field.
"The Most Profound Mystery In All Of Science" -
Little is known about this force and its its repulsive gravity, which is causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
The riddles of dark matter and cosmic inflation, along with dark energy, these are the three pillars of modern cosmological theory,"
and none of them can be explained with physics that we know," Michael Turner, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics says.
Doesn't Secret Dark Matter Exist?
The more scientists study dark matter they know lesser and are not particularly optimistic about their results.
After completing this study, we know less about dark matter than we did before," said Matt Walker, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
A mysterious and still unknown substance is totally invisible in the Universe and reveals its presence only through its gravitational pull.
Mysteries Of A Dark Universe
Cosmology, the study of the universe as a whole, has been turned on its head by a stunning discovery that the universe is flying apart in all directions at an ever-increasing rate. Is the universe really as we think it should be? Or is nature somehow fooling us?
The astronomers whose data revealed this accelerating universe have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Black Holes With No 'Table Manners' Eat Two Courses At Once!
It is still unknown how the supermassive black holes (SMBH) in galaxy centres accrete gas and grow.
Researchers from the University of Leicester (UK) and Monash University in Australia have investigated how some black holes got so big so fast that they are billions of times heavier than the sun.
Mercury Surprises Scientists
On March 17, MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space Environment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) completed its one-year primary mission, orbiting Mercury, capturing nearly 100,000 images, and recording data
that reveals new information about the planet's core, topography, and the mysterious radar bright material in the permanently shadowed areas near the poles.
Living Earth Simulator - Supercomputer Predicting The Future
In Douglas Adams book the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy we encounter a machine called Deep Thought. It is the most powerful computer ever built. Deep Thought is capable of answering questions
concerning life, the Universe, and simply everything. Now scientists are planning to create a similar machine. It is called the Living Earth Simulator (LES).
Warp-Speed Planets Are Some Of The Fastest Objects In The Milky Way
Warped planets are some of the fastest objects in the Milky Way and they zoom through space near the speed of light.
Some years ago astronomers were astonished when they they found the first runaway star flying out of our Galaxy at a speed of 1.5 million miles per hour.
The discovery intrigued theorists, who wondered: If a star can get tossed outward at such an extreme velocity, could the same thing happen to planets?
Though the universe is filled with billions upon billions of stars, the discovery of a single variable star in 1923 altered the
course of modern astronomy. And, at least one famous astronomer of the time lamented that the discovery had shattered his world view.
Kepler Will Find Goldilocks Planet Within The Next Two Years
NASA's Kepler spacecraft is discovering a veritable avalanche of alien worlds. Recent finds include planets with double suns, massive
"super-Earths" and "hot Jupiters," and a miniature solar system.
The variety of planets circling distant suns is as wonderful as it is surprising.