NASA Completes Initial Orbit of Jupiter using Juno SpacecraftFirst Published: September 2, 2016 Last updated: November 26th, 2017 Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
The last week or so has been an interesting one in the world of space flight. With the theories emanating about alien Dyson Spheres, discussion about space has been rife as per usual. However, we finally seen a story from the big dogs that made us smile.
NASA has recently completed its first journey around Jupiter via its Juno platform, calling the first fly-by a success. This was the first ever carried out close-up fly-by of the planet, and it’s an incredibly exciting step for this particular investigation.
Now, the process begins to take all of the data that was captured and to analyze it.
So, we’ll see you all again sometime in 2086.
This process was described as ‘painfully slow’ and is likely to take some time to get right. The closest data approach was seemingly at 13:44 UTC, on August 28th.
Across the actual activity that took place, Juno took in plenty of data. Sitting pretty at around 2,600 miles above Jupiter’s surface, it was moving at a fair pace too. The average travel speed was 208,000km/h, or 130,000 miles per hour. Sorry, Lewis Hamilton, you’ve just been outdone!
This is also a bit of a landmark situation for NASA.
Why? Because, this was the first time that the orbiting system had all instruments switched on, and trained towards Jupiter. This was a beautifully interesting point, showing just how much time is spent experimenting with different parameters for precise readings.
VIDEO: Mission Juno (NASA)
NASA has informed us that a “handful of images” will be joining us in the near future for consumption. This will take a few weeks apparently, so we look forward to seeing what the finished results were.
Scott Bolton, the principle investigator at the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, spoke about the project. He mentioned that many “intriguing data returns” had already been fed back and found in the analysis so far. However, he did mention that it would take a significant period of time to work through all of the data collected. As you might expect, a planetary fly-by can be quite an exhaustive process!
Also, time will be needed not just to get the data, but to comprehend it. We could be waiting some time to learn anything from the information that comes from the Juno project. Until then, it’s best to just kick back and wait for the solutions to appear.
With 35 more flybys scheduled in the near future, too, we can expect more information to come out. Indeed, the program is supposed to take place until February 2017. This means that we will likely be waiting for some time to get the answers needed!
Thankfully, the JunoCam will be giving us small bites of information in the near future. They’ll be released quicker than others. The experts are hoping to show us the Jovian atmosphere and the first look at the north and south poles, respectively.
This is unheard of territory – we are now in parts of space orbit we have never been in before. If that does not excite you, what will!?
There’ll be more discussions to come in the future about this, and more revelations to be broken down. For now, though, let’s just celebrate a story of progress, not regression.
VIDEO: Jupiter: Into the Unknown (NASA Juno Mission Trailer)
About the Juno Project
The Juno Project is being brought together to help improve human understanding of Jupiter. We know very little about the evolution and the origin of the planet, and the hope is that NASA can change that.
The main aims of the Juno Project are to;
- Try and determine the water levels on the planet of Jupiter, specifically in the atmosphere. This has long been a question of much debate and scientific interest. This will help determine the planet formation, to understand what theories may be correct – or if we need new theories!
- To take a more comprehensive look into the atmosphere of Jupiter. This will help to accurately measure the composition, temperature, cloud motion and various other factors. With the help of these discoveries, the hope is that Jupiter can become better understood by science.
- The magnetic and gravity fields of Jupiter are something we don’t quite get, either. The hope is that Juno can help to map the details once and for all. Then, we could hopefully understand the deeper structure of the planet.
- To take a better and closer understanding of the magnetosphere of the planet around the poles of the planet. This will help to closer understand the auroras of the planet. Also, it will be used to make sense of the magnetic force field that works around the atmosphere of the planet.
- This is an exceptionally interesting part of the research, and is likely to be a large part of NASA in the years to come. We are deeply excited to see where this program goes in the future, as we better understand our solar system. Naturally, more details will be released as time goes but at the moment this is one of the most exciting stories in science.
What do you think NASA is likely to find?