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NASA's Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter's orbit


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  1. #1
    C.I.A. gracie7's Avatar
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    Default NASA's Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter's orbit


    PASADENA, Calif. — The best celebration this Independence Day wasn’t around a barbecue or fireworks show, but in a dark room filled with NASA engineers.

    After hours of anticipation, team members broke out in cheers. The Juno mission's spacecraft made it into Jupiter's orbit just before 9 p.m. local time after a risky maneuver to slow it down by more than 1,200 mph so it could be captured by Jupiter’s gravity.

    "NASA did it again," said Scott Bolton, the scientist in charge of the Juno project, in a news conference afterward at the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the mission is being directed.

    Rick Nybakken, a Juno project manager, said it was a "make-or-break" moment for Juno's five-year-old, 1.8 billion mile journey through space.

    Juno will now take a series of risky dives beneath Jupiter’s intense radiation belts where it will study the gas giant from as close as 2,600 miles over the planet's cloud tops. The last mission to the gas giant, Galileo, which ended in 2003, spent most of its mission five times farther away than Juno will get.

    The aim of the mission is to collect data about how the solar system formed.

    Going beneath the radiation belts to collect data involves some risks. Juno’s close approaches will expose it to enough radiation to fry most modern electronics, so the craft will dip in just once every two weeks for a few hours to minimize exposure. Juno is also outfitted with a radiation-shielded titanium vault that houses most of its sensitive equipment.



    The sensitive maneuver known as orbital insertion required extreme precision. It involved firing a rocket engine to slow Juno down.

    If it hadn’t worked, Juno could have ended up flying off into space at speeds too great to ever return.

    “You’ve gotta fire the engine at exactly the right time in exactly the right place. That’s not easy,” said Guy Beutelschies, director of Interplanetary Missions at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the NASA contractor that built the spacecraft.

    In the end, Juno followed the flight plan almost exactly, accurate to within one second.

    The mood at the news press conference an hour later was one of celebration and relief.

    "(We're all) going to bed tonight not worrying about what’s gonna happen tomorrow, it’s pretty amazing,” said Diane Brown, an executive for the Juno program.

    “Juno is going to just skim the top of Jupiter…so we’ll be able to learn so much more. What’s it made of? What’s the atmosphere? How did it originate?” said Brown.

    “We prepared a contingency communications procedure and guess what?” said Nybakken, who then ripped up the contingency plans in front of the cameras.

    Source: NASA's Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter's orbit

    Related articles: Juno spacecraft to maneuver into orbit at Jupiter - CNN.com
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/sc...yage.html?_r=0

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    Junior Member coccomomoa's Avatar
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    Nice article

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    Junior Member NalaGida's Avatar
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    amazing indeed!

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    Junior Member coccomomoa's Avatar
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    More articles like this please

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