Nasa’s solarpowered Juno spacecraft, launched five years ago, is set for a rendezvous with Jupiter, when it enters the orbit of the largest planet in our solar system on Tuesday .
The spacecraft will complete a burn of its main engine, placing it in Jupiter’s orbit, Nasa said. During its mission, Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times, soaring low over the planet’s cloud tops as close as about 4,100 kilometres. The burn will impart a mean change in velocity of 542 metres per second on the spacecraft.
Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to a learn more about the J planet’s origins, struct ture, atmosphere and a magnetosphere. The progress will be monitored by the mission teams at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Space Systems in the US via signal reception by Deep Space Network antennas in California and Australia.
After the main engine burn, Juno will be in orbit around Jupiter. The spacecraft will spin down from 5 to 2 revolutions per minute (RPM), turn back towards the Sun, and ultimately transmit telemetry via its high-gain antenna.
Juno will start its tour of Jupiter in a 53.5-day orbit.The spacecraft saves fuel by executing a burn that places it in a capture orbit instead of going directly for the 14-day orbit that will occur during the mission’s primary science collection period. The 14day orbit phase will begin after the final burn of the mis sion for Juno’s main engine on October 19.
“Jupiter is spectacular from afar and will be absolutely breathtaking from close up,“ said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, located in the US. Juno’s name comes from Greek and Roman mythology . The mythical 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 unveil Jupiter’s true nature.