Juno Spacecraft succeeded at reaching Jupiter´s orbit, after nearly five years of travelling through space. The vehicle got into orbit around the gas giant, during a firing up of its main engine that lasted 35 minutes. The confirmation of Juno´s orbit insertion was received at around 8:53 PM PDT (11:53 PM EDT) on Monday, July 4. Further actions after this event include stabilizing the spacecraft by pointing the main engine in the right direction and then changing the rate of the spacecraft ‘rotation from 2 to 5 RPM.

Juno´s orbit insertion

It started at 8:18 PM PDT (11:18 PM EDT), reducing its speed to 1.9 km (1,212 miles) per second.

This velocity allowed the spacecraft to be captured by the gravitational force of Jupiter. After the capturing maneuver, the spacecraft was turned, so that the power delivered by its panels and arranged individual solar cells could be charged by the light of the sun.

During this primary phase of the mission, Juno will undergo testing on Juno´s subsystems and adjustment of some Science instruments, along with minimum science data compilation. The spacecraft will begin officially performing science studies on October; however, image collection of the biggest planet in the solar system will start soon.

Juno´s journey

Juno spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral. It travelled for nearly five years through space and on June 22, it reached Jupiter’s magnetosphere at the side facing the sun.

Two weeks later, it approached Jupiter at decreased velocity to allow it to be locked into the big planet’s orbit, which occurred on July 4, 2016 at 8:53 Pm PDT (11:53 PM EDT). From here, Juno will take a look into Jupiter´s system.

Science objectives

The mission’s main goal is to gather information that lets scientists understand the formation and evolution of the gas giant.

Juno is equipped with the pertinent science instrumentation to study Jupiter´s intense magnetic field, auroras, and atmosphere, including water and ammonia in its deep interior. It will also unveil the true nature of Jupiter’s core. Understanding how the gas giant ´planet formed and evolved, Juno´s arrival on Jupiter will broaden scientists understanding of the origin and evolution of other gas planets in other planetary systems of the universe.