Jupiter: Close Encounter

Jupiter: Close Encounter

Juno's nine science instruments were off when the probe entered orbit around the solar system's largest planet Monday (July 4), to reduce complications during that night's make-or-break orbit-insertion engine burn.

 

The mission team powered up five of those instruments Wednesday (July 6) and plans to turn on the other four before the end of the month, NASA officials said. So Juno should be ready to gather some science data when Juno makes its next close pass by the huge planet on Aug. 27. (The probe is currently in a 53-day orbit around Jupiter.)

 

 

"Next time around, we will have our eyes and ears open," Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement today (July 8). "You can expect us to release some information about our findings around Sept. 1."

The $1.1 billion Juno mission launched in August 2011 and aims to help scientists better understand Jupiter's magnetic and gravitational fields, composition and interior structure — in particular, whether the huge planet harbors a core of heavy elements.

 

Jupiter King of planets hit by comet shoemaker.

 

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