On the evening of the Fourth of July, NASA's Juno spacecraft will attempt to enter Jupiter's orbit and begin a multi-week research phase. We're reporting on the mission live, so check back regularly for up to the moment stories on the spacecraft's progress.
Sep 2, 2016
We just got our closest look ever at Jupiter’s north pole thanks to NASA’s Juno spacecraft
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has completed its first flyby around Jupiter with its instruments switched on — and it sent us back the very first up close images of the gas giant’s north pole. The high-resolution photos are stunning, and are already revealing storms and weather activity that scientists had never seen before.Read Article >
During the flyby, which was completed on August 27th, the probe came about 2,500 miles above the planet, with its eight science instruments switched on. It took one and a half days to download all the data Juno sent back from its 6-hour transit from Jupiter’s north pole to the south pole.
Jul 7, 2016
NASA's Juno mission will deliver the punchline on a 400-year-old joke
For a government agency, NASA has a notably off-color sense of humor. Whether they're making horrifying youth recruitment music videos, inviting boy bands on a field trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, releasing film parody mission posters, or rifling through the International Space Stations costume closet on an idle Halloween's eve, NASA is always looking for a punchline. Often, the punchline is weird.Read Article >
NASA's latest knee-slapper incorporates Roman mythology, astronomy naming conventions, and that scene in every rom-com in which someone comes home unexpectedly and sees their spouse knocking boots with a random babe. The joke has been gestating for over 400 years.
Watch an epic time-lapse video of Jupiter's moons orbiting around the planet
NASA’s Juno spacecraft may be in orbit around Jupiter, but it’s going to be a while before the vehicle photographs its first up-close images of the gas giant. The probe’s instruments were all powered down for orbital insertion yesterday, and they won’t be turned back on for a couple of days. Plus, Juno is in a highly elliptical 53-day orbit around Jupiter, where it only spends a few hours super close to the planet. Right now, the spacecraft is sailing farther and farther away from Jupiter on its orbit, and it won’t be close to the planet again until August 27th.Read Article >
But while we wait for the first juicy images from Juno to arrive, NASA provided a little teaser from the spacecraft’s final approach to the planet. Throughout June, the spacecraft snapped images of the Jovian system as it traveled closer and closer. The space agency strung those pictures along into a time-lapse, showing for the first time Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto in orbit around the planet.
Jul 5, 2016
Google celebrates NASA's Juno mission success with animated Doodle
NASA's Juno spacecraft has only just arrived in its intended orbit around Jupiter, but Google has already congratulated the space agency, through the means of Google Doodle. The animated image shows a pixelated version of NASA's ground crew jumping for joy as Juno — forming the second O in "Google" — beams back happy little emoji from around our solar system's largest planet.Read Article >
Click the GIF and you can track the mission's progress, beginning with its launch back in 2011, all the way up to its approach to Jupiter over the past few weeks, and its arrival in a highly elliptical orbit today. NASA scientists had to thread the needle with Juno, guiding it through dangerous patches of debris and radiation around the gas giant, but everything so far seems to be in order. The spacecraft was launched to find out more about Jupiter, but we won't know the juiciest details until the end of its 53-day orbit, as Juno swings in close to the planet to work out if it does indeed have a rocky core.
NASA's Juno spacecraft is now in orbit around Jupiter
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, bringing it closer to the planet than any probe has come so far. The vehicle reached the gas giant’s north pole this evening, and NASA received confirmation that the vehicle had turned on its main engine at 11:18PM ET. The engine burned for 35 minutes, helping to slow the spacecraft down enough so that it was captured by Jupiter’s gravitational pull. NASA confirmed that the burn was successful at around 11:53PM ET and that Juno was in its intended 53-day orbit.Read Article >
“NASA did it again," Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator, said at a press conference at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory after insertion. His declaration was met with loud cheers and applause from media and others in attendance at the center in Pasadena, California.
If intense radiation weren’t bad enough, Juno has Jupiter’s rings of debris to worry about
NASA’s Juno spacecraft is about to make a terrifying plunge into orbit around Jupiter later tonight — one that involves passing through a terrifying hellscape of powerful radiation. Jupiter’s massive magnetic field, known as its magnetosphere, traps charged particles around the planet, creating huge radiation belts that can fry spacecraft that pass by. These high-energy particles get accelerated to near the speed of light and can rip through an unprepared vehicle, shredding its inner atoms apart.Read Article >
Sounds like a pretty scary place, right? Well if that wasn’t nightmarish enough, it turns out there’s another major hazard facing Juno on its way into Jupiter’s orbit: debris.
Jul 4, 2016
This is Juno’s last glimpse of Jupiter until it’s in orbit
NASA has released the last image of Jupiter from the agency's Juno spacecraft before it attempts to enter the planet's orbit tonight. The color image was taken on June 29th, with Juno 3.3 million miles away from the gas planet. Juno has now powered down its instruments to avoid any issues during orbit insertion.Read Article >
If all goes as planned Juno will slow down by 1,200 miles per hour using its main engine and enter a 53-day orbit of Jupiter right before midnight tonight. Given how far away Juno is from Earth, everything must go according to plan, as it takes nearly an hour for Juno to receive any new directives from NASA, or to send notice of any issues back to the space agency. We'll have ongoing coverage of Juno's attempt to orbit Jupiter throughout the day.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft enters Jupiter’s orbit: how to watch and what to expect
Today is one of celebration for NASA: not only is it Independence Day, but it’s also the day that the agency’s Juno spacecraft puts itself into orbit around Jupiter. After launching in August 2011, the vehicle has been traveling to the gas giant for the last five years and will finally reach its destination later this evening. Once it arrives, the spacecraft will turn on its main engine for 35 minutes to slow itself down by 1,200 miles per hour. If all goes well, the burn will put Juno into a 53-day orbit around the planet.Read Article >
NASA won’t really be celebrating until that engine burn is successful though. Juno has only one opportunity to get into Jupiter’s orbit. If anything goes wrong during the engine firing and Juno blows past the planet, that’s it for the mission. Because of how crucial this moment is, the Juno mission team is being as cautious as possible. All of the spacecraft’s onboard instruments are powered down so that nothing interferes with orbit insertion.
Jul 1, 2016
Listen to the sound of NASA’s Juno spacecraft crossing into Jupiter’s magnetic field
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has officially crossed the barrier over into Jupiter’s magnetosphere, the powerful magnetic field that extends millions of miles around the planet. Within this magnetosphere, particles move based on what’s going on inside Jupiter. NASA believes Juno entered this region of space between June 24th and 25th. Now, the vehicle is continuing even further into the field and is slated to arrive at Jupiter on July 4th, when it will insert itself into the planet’s orbit. It will allow the spacecraft to study the gas giant in more detail than ever before.Read Article >
Jupiter's magnetic field, which is about 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field, is considered to be the largest structure in our Solar System. "If Jupiter's magnetosphere glowed in visible light, it would be twice the size of the full Moon as seen from Earth," said William Kurth lead co-investigator for Juno’s Waves investigation. The magnetosphere is constantly being bombarded by charged particles streaming from the Sun, called solar wind. Some of these charged particles get trapped inside the magnetosphere, as well as particles coming from Jupiter’s volcanically active moon Io. The result: parts of the magnetosphere are a radioactive hell scape that can potentially fry any electronics that venture deep inside. But on the bright side, the field is also great for making some stunning aurorae!
Jun 30, 2016
NASA’s Juno spacecraft will soon reach Jupiter and start unlocking the planet’s secrets
NASA is celebrating Independence Day this year by putting a spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter. The space agency’s Juno mission is slated to arrive at the massive planet on the night of July 4th, after having traveled across more than 1.7 billion miles of space over the past five years. Once Juno arrives, the probe’s main engine will fire, slowing the spacecraft down and placing it into orbit around Jupiter. It’s an important event for the mission, especially since NASA has only one shot at getting it right. If Juno flies past Jupiter, the mission will be blown.Read Article >
If all goes as planned, Juno will eventually fly closer to the gas giant than any other spacecraft before, allowing NASA to figure out what’s going on underneath all of Jupiter’s thick clouds. "We have sent spacecraft to the Jovian system before, but they all kept their distance from Jupiter," Steve Levin, a Juno project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Verge. "[Juno’s] orbit actually enables a lot. It’s a key part of doing the science we want to do."
Jun 10, 2016
NASA's Juno spacecraft will enter orbit around Jupiter in less than a month
Right now, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is about 11 million miles from the planet Jupiter, moving at four miles per second. Jupiter’s massive gravitational pull is constantly "tugging" on the spacecraft, and once the vehicle reaches the planet, it will be going up to 40 miles a second. At that point, Juno will turn its engines on for 35 minutes to slow down and ultimately insert itself into orbit around Jupiter on July 4th. When that happens, it’ll mark the ninth time a spacecraft has explored the gas giant.Read Article >
The main goal of Juno is to figure out the origins of Jupiter: when and how did it form? And how has it evolved over time? In an attempt to answer these questions, Juno will be closely analyzing Jupiter’s atmosphere. The amount of water and ammonia surrounding the planet can indicate which of Jupiter’s origin theories makes the most sense. The spacecraft will also be studying Jupiter’s magnetic and gravitational fields, to try to figure out if Jupiter has a solid core and how big that core might be.