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Juno Spacecraft: What Do We Hope to Learn?

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The Juno spacecraft has been traveling toward its destination since its launch in 2011, and is set to insert Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the solar system. Humans have been studying it for hundreds of years, yet still many basic questions about the gas world remain.

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The primary goal of the Juno spacecraft is to reveal the story of the formation and evolution of the planet Jupiter. Understanding the origin and evolution of Jupiter can provide the knowledge needed to help us understand the origin of our solar system and planetary systems around other stars.

Have We Visited Jupiter Before? Yes! In 1995, our Galileo mission (artist illustration above) made the voyage to Jupiter. One of its jobs was to drop a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere. The data showed us that the composition was different than scientists thought, indicating that our theories of planetary formation were wrong.

What’s Different About This Visit? The Juno spacecraft will, for the first time, see below Jupiter’s dense clover of clouds. [Bonus Fact: This is why the mission was named after the Roman goddess, who was Jupiter’s wife, and who could also see through the clouds.]

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Unlocking Jupiter’s Secrets

Specifically, Juno will…

  • Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
  • Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
  • Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
  • Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous

Juno will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system.

For updates on the Juno mission, follow the spacecraft on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Source: You’ll find lots of information about the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Also we have facts about the space station, ISS, SpaceX launch, space program, and outerspace. NASA

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Juno Spacecraft: What Do We Hope to Learn?

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