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Spacecraft Juno Moving Too Fast, Burns To Slow Down

Spacecraft Juno has successfully executed a maneuver to adjust its flight path. The maneuver made by the solar-powered spacecraft, developed by NASA, helped set the stage for its arrival at the solar system’s largest planet. Arrival is scheduled for five months and a day from now.

At the time of the maneuver, Juno was about 51 million miles (82 million kilometers) from Jupiter and approximately 425 million miles (684 million kilometers) from Earth.

spacecraft juno
Launching from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said:

“This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4th at 8:18 p.m. PDT [11:18 p.m. EDT].”

The Juno mission is the second spacecraft designed under NASA’s New Frontiers Program.

Launched back on Aug. 5, 2011, the spacecraft will orbit the Jovian world 33 times, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops every 14 days.

Juno will determine the global structure and motions of Jupiter’s atmosphere below the cloud tops for the first time, mapping variations in the atmosphere’s composition, temperature, clouds and patterns of movement down to unprecedented depths.

spacecraft juno
Artist’s concept of a young star system similar to our own.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The name Juno 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.

Juno mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

The next trajectory correction maneuver is scheduled for May 31.

Spacecraft Juno