NASA’s Jupiter Mission Satellite to be Launched On August 5; Deep Space Missions to Follow

NASA is all set to launch the spacecraft Juno for its Jupiter mission, using the powerful Atlas V 551 rocket as the launch vehicle. The scheduled launch date is August 5 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Mission Juno is a decade old project of NASA designed to get information about the Jupiter. It comprises the Juno satellite, which is worth $1.1 billion. The launch vehicle is one of the most powerful launch vehicles in the world. It was originally built as an intercontinental ballistic missile (Atlas Missile).

The Juno Satellite

Named After A Goddess

The name of the mission comes from the Roman mythological figure, Juno, who is the daughter of the Roman god Saturn and the sister, and also wife, of the chief Roman god, Jupiter. She’s also the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Scientists hope that Jupiter will finally share some of its wonderful secrets with a spacecraft, which is His wife’s namesake.

What about Jupiter and the mission

Jupiter is a remarkable planet. It is the closest to a star and is thought to be the remnants of a second star after the Sun, which never materialised. Jupiter is the only planet known, which has its own energy source, much like the Sun, but dimmer. It was often called a Brown Star’, but that tag has been shed as Jupiter is believed to have formed as a planet forms. It has a mass which is about a thousandth of a Solar Mass, which is too less for it to be able to fuse hydrogen. The debate is still out as to whether Jupiter is a failed star or a Superplanet.

Artist's impression of Juno flying to Jupiter

NASA scientists are primarily interested in the composition of the gas giant. Scott Bolton, the principal investigator for the Juno mission, put it most pithily:

It got the majority of the leftovers after the sun formed. We want the ingredient list.

Juno will orbit the Sun for two years, close to the Earth’s orbit, before using the Earth’s gravity as a slingshot to shoot itself farther out. It is expected to reach Jupiter by 2016. Juno will draw power from the three solar panels provided on it, in contrast to the use of nuclear power for Galileo and Voyager.

The path to be taken by Juno

The mission hopes to know more about what lies beneath the surface of Jupiter, especially the core. Juno is also expected to be the pioneer for more deep space missions, especially after the Space Shuttle Program expired a few days back.

As the date nears, we will bring you the exact time of the launch and more relevant details. Bookmark this site for more.

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.