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Juno completes first orbit of Jupiter

Jupiter's north polar region is coming into view as NASA's Juno spacecraft approaches the giant planet. This view of Jupiter was taken Aug. 27, when Juno was  703,000 kilometers away.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed its first orbit of Jupiter with a close flyby of the planet Saturday.

Juno passed 4,200 kilometers above the planet’s cloud tops on closest approach Saturday at 9:44 a.m. Eastern. The spacecraft operated as planned during the flyby, project officials said.

The flyby marked the end of Juno’s first orbit after arriving at the planet July 4, and is also the closest the spacecraft will get to the planet during its prime mission. A maneuver on its next flyby in October will put the spacecraft into a 14-day orbit for the main phase of the mission. [CBS]


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India’s space agency ISRO successfully tested a scramjet engine Sunday. A sounding rocket lifted off early Sunday and accelerated the experimental scramjet to supersonic speeds, allowing the engine to operate for five seconds on the brief suborbital flight. ISRO declared the test a key milestone in its long-term efforts to develop air-breathing propulsion systems for use on future reusable launch vehicles. [PTI]

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The heat shield for the next Orion mission arrived at the Kennedy Space Center last week. The heat shield, a modified version of one flown on the first Orion test flight in late 2014, will be incorporated into the Orion being assembled at KSC for the Exploration Mission 1 flight planned for late 2018. Upcoming work on the heat shield includes attaching blocks of ablative material and installing instrumentation. [Florida Today]

A group of people participating in a year-long Mars simulation emerged from their Hawaii habitat Sunday. The six people spent the last year in the habitat, on the slopes of Mauna Loa, in the longest simulated mission yet for the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. The simulations are designed to test human factors issues for later human missions to Mars. [AP]

Scientists are using data from ESA’s Sentinel to study last week’s devastating Italian earthquake. Radar observations by the Sentinel-1a and 1b spacecraft allowed geophysicists to map the fault zone where the magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck last week, killing hundreds of people. Those observations show the earthquake shifted the surface by up to 23 centimeters in a region along the fault about 25 kilometers long. [BBC]

A mysterious radio signal has attracted the attention of SETI researchers. Russian astronomers said they detected a strong radio signal last May from a sun-like star 95 light-years away. No signals have since been detected from the star, although astronomers said they plan to carry out more radio observations. Some involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are skeptical, arguing the signal is most likely linked to natural sources of terrestrial interference. [GeekWire]

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Juno completes first orbit of Jupiter

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