Right on target. NASA had a special reason to celebrate July 4th this year…
A signal sent from 540 million miles across the solar system confirmed yet another giant leap for mankind, and another feather in the cap of the US space agency. It indicated that the spacecraft ‘Juno‘ had successfully accomplished its mission and begun orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.
The Juno team broke out in cheers as the screens at mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena flashed the words ‘Welcome to Jupiter‘. Juno project manager Rick Nybakken was ecstatic, in fact almost poetic, saying, “Through tones Juno sang to us, and it was a song of perfection”, referring to audio signals sent home by the probe, indicating it was in orbit and functional.
Launched nearly five years ago, Juno’s mission is to study Jupiter’s composition and evolution. Jupiter, a huge ball of gases 300 times more massive, and 11 times wider than Earth, is considered by scientists to be the first planet to form, and they think studying it can provide clues to the evolution of our solar system.
‘Juno’ is a constantly spinning robotic probe, as wide as a basketball court, that will for the next couple of months, circle Jupiter 37 times, diving down to get ‘up close and personal’ with the giant planet, taking color photos that will unlock more secrets of ‘the final frontier’.