The Fastest-ever NASA’s Spacecraft, Juno enters around the Jupiter orbit. The human made spacecraft will plunge into the thick atmosphere of the biggest planet in the solar system. As per the Juno Mission Team members, the spacecraft which fired the main rocket engine late Monday enter the orbit and the gravity of the giant planet accelerates it with the estimated top speed of about 165,000 mph (265,000 km/h) relative to Earth.
The Juno mission worth $1.1 billion was launched in August 2011. The solar-powered research is equipped with 9 science instruments. These instruments are used to draw the gravitational and magnetic fields of Jupiter and to understand the planet’s interior structure. Team members said that these observations should help them to better understand the formation and evolution of giant planet.
“I don’t think we’ve had any human[-made] object that’s moved that fast, that’s left the Earth,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio during a news conference last week.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers have passed a command to Juno to initiate its autopilot mode. Juno’s engine, a Leros 1b was built by Moog-ISP in England. “If that doesn’t all go just right, we fly past Jupiter,” said Bolton. “Everything’s riding on it.”
Engine burn complete and orbit obtained. I’m ready to unlock all your secrets, #Jupiter. Deal with it.
— NASA's Juno Mission (@NASAJuno) July 5, 2016
On the successful entry of Juno into 53.5 day orbit around Jupiter, researchers will commission the science instruments to study the planet for next few months. However the actual scientific action will not take until October. Juno is scheduled to perform another engine burn over 22 minutes on Oct 19. This is to shift into a highly elliptical 14-day orbit around Jupiter that will take it within 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers).
Over the course of Time Juno will enter 30 orbits of the giant before its endless sleep when it dives into the planet’s atmosphere in February 2018. This end is designed to prevent the chance of contaminating the ocean-harboring Jupiter moon Europa.