INFOGRAPHIC: Juno’s Mission to Jupiter
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has recently taken some breathtaking images of Jupiter since sliding into the gas giant’s orbit on July 5, 2016.
It’s the latest in a 30-year history of robots visiting our solar system’s largest planet, which still holds mysteries after decades of study even after Galileo’s successful orbit in 1989.
Jupiter is a behemoth: It’s 318 times bigger than Earth, and two-and-a-half times more massive than all of the other planets in our solar system combined. Because it’s so huge, the pull of its gravity has kept its original atmospheric composition in tact (not the case for tiny Earth, where lighter gases like helium largely escaped early in the planet’s history). By studying it, then, scientists can get clues to the early solar system’s composition, plotting out the origins and formation of not just Jupiter, but our entire little corner of the universe.
As groundbreaking as its mission will be, Juno owes its promise to the spacecrafts that came before it, particularly Galileo, a combination orbiter and probe that launched from Earth before the average person owned a computer. Galileo is the only other spacecraft to orbit Jupiter—the rest simply stopped by the planet en route to other destinations—putting Galileo and Juno in a class all their own.
Do you have an interest in astronomy and long-term research projects? Check out these events for the World Science Festival Brisbane 2017:
- WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: Big Science, Big Rewards
- EARTH 2.0: A Future Habitat for Humanity?
- FIRST ASTRONOMERS: Indigenous Knowledge Systems
- WATER TALKS: Other Worldly Water
- BRAIN FOOD BREAKFAST SERIES: Life, the Universe and Everything
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Eric Jorgensen