Equivalent of the queen of Greek gods, Juno was a Roman goddess. Married to god Jupiter, legend has it that she was able to look through a blanket of clouds Jupiter conjured to hide his mischief. And so aptly is NASA’s new mission namedat discovering the true nature of Jupiter.
The spacecraft entered the orbit of planet Jupiter just in time for America’s Independence Day on July 4th at 11:53 pm ET. Launched in 2011, Juno battled the outrageous belts of radiation around the planet and finally hit the planned target after 5 years of crazy anticipation. Scott Bolton,
Juno’s principal investigator said, “We just did the hardest thing NASA has ever done.”
“The primary goal is to understand the recipe of how you make a solar system” explained Scott Bolton. The mission’s primary motive is to look beyond the clouded atmosphere of the planet Jupiter. Juno will provide answers to pertinent questions like ‘does Jupiter have a solid core beneath the clouds’, ‘does water exist in its environment’ and collects hints about how the formation of the planet.
Juno was launched in the year when NASA was facing a shortage of their primary power source, plutonium-238 and so it is entirely fueled by solar energy. Due to a substantial distance from the sun, it produced 500 watts of energy to power the nine instruments it is composed of. Juno’s expected tenure at the planet is 20 months, during which it will be subjected to extremely high amount of radiations. To protect its most susceptible parts, it is enveloped with a titanium vault. As a precaution to flying accidents and the unfavorable environment, Juno will revolve around the planet in highly elliptical orbits. After the completion of the assigned task it annihilate itself by descending into the unforgiving center of Jupiter to eliminate the risk of running into Jupiter's moons.
Before Juno, a spacecraft named Galileo was launched into the orbit of Jupiter. Galileo circled the planet for eight years and collected some valuable information about it. But Juno with all its updated and high-tech machinery is expected to do much much more. Now that it is at ground zero, the world will be waiting with bated breathes to know what it has to say.
- Shakshi Singh