For scientific community, it is a great space navigator, an audacious explorer, and a romantic crusader in pursuit of the love of its life, its mission, and destination ? the planet Jupiter. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s sweet and tough endeavour, Juno, is the second unmanned mission to the biggest and fifth planet of our solar system, which moved into the gas giant’s orbit on July 4th, 2016, after a historic five-year voyage.
Juno, which stands for Jupiter Near-polar Orbiter, was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011, with an immense expectation and cheering. The spacecraft took a rough path meandering through intense and deadly radiation, skirting Jupiter’s dense clouds that emit strong electromagnetic waves, and locked itself in the orbit around the massive planet on July 4th, thus creating another proud moment for NASA.
Juno is a billion-dollar mission, and it?s the second since Galileo, the spacecraft which was sent to scan the first planet to be formed after the Sun, Jupiter, and orbited around it from 1995 to 2003.
According to the Greco-Roman mythology, which was how the name Juno was drawn, some in NASA believe ?Juno? will strengthen the bridge between the past and the present- ancient treasure collection of stories and imagination collaborating it with the modern-day scientific explorations and investigation leaving no scope for error.
Juno, an ancient Roman goddess, was the nagging and suspicious wife of the ever promiscuous and most powerful Jupiter, the god of the gods. In Greek version, Juno and Jupiter were called as Hera and Zeus, and their tales of romance tell us about many celestial and earthly characters, from heroes to villains, and the rise and fall of empires.
Juno is designed by three powerful bus-sized solar panels, systematically arranged around the spacecraft. The use of solar panels is done because of the abundance of sunlight in the inner solar system, helping to power Juno in stabilizing, and generating power from sun’s radiation. Thus, it helps to power Juno’s onboard computers to gather data and transmit them back to earth, now that it’s in Jupiter’s orbit.
The engineers and scientists in California, cheered when the probe signaled that it had completed a crucial 35-minute engine burn, slowing down its rotational speed from 5 rpm to 2 rpm, which enabled Juno to be firmly captured by the giant planet?s gravity, without being overly trapped, or crashing into its intensely turbulent atmosphere, or be slung off to hit one of its four natural satellites ? Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa.
Well, this successful launch and arrival of Juno into Jupiter?s orbit will now help scientists gear up for a planned 18-month survey of Jupiter, hoping to reveal new information about the giant planet’s internal structure and history of its formation.
Picture Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech