NASA launched a space probe on August 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral which entered in Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. The space probe was named Juno. It was a part of the New Frontiers Program. The Juno spacecraft will give a detailed analysis of the gas giant’s atmospheric conditions, magnetic environment and evolution history.
It is the second long term mission launched on Jupiter after Galileo. Juno is currently being targeted to impact from Jupiter on February 2018.
National Research Council has laid the importance of Jupiter in discovering the secrets of universe. The questions which were raised while the Juno mission was planned were :
- Does the gas giant have central core, which might help in understanding the formation of the planet ?
- How much water is in its atmosphere ?
- How is it possible that it’s whether is stable overall ?
- What is the type of plasma and magnetic field around Jupiter ?
Eight other spacecrafts have passed the Jupiter’s orbit in past years but what makes Juno different is its ability to formulate solar power from Jupiter’s neighbour. Others relied on nuclear power but Juno is efficient in producing its own energy. Improvised solar panels and efficient instruments designed to avoid Jupiter’s shadow has enabled it to work endlessly without depending on any other source.
Juno is designed and formulated to discover some of the below questions which have been lurking in the minds of most of the scientists and astronauts. It answers and works on achieving the following objectives.
- The amount of water in Jupiter could explain most of the theories of the Solar system. Juno is set to find water in Jupiter’s environment.
- To learn about the compositions of gas and different elements in its environment. This will help to understand the general stability in its environment.
- To understand the magnetic and electric fields in its environment. This will help in understanding the internal structure and core of the planet.
- Study of the auroras which are governed by magnetic fields on the gas giant. Also understanding other effects of this field.
- Estimating the core mass of Jupiter. Elements and compounds present in it will be discovered.
- Mapping its gravitational field to understand the distribution of density in the planet.
- Classify and study its three dimensional magnetospheres.
- Calculating the orbital frame dragging caused by the angular momentum of the planet.
According to medieval history Juno was the wife of ancient God Jupiter. Hence the name is appropriate. Juno is NASA’s highly anticipated mission which is been looked as the next big discovery marker in the area of space research.