Jupiter is awaiting the arrival of Juno on Independence Day, when the NASA spacecraft plans to go into a polar orbit around the biggest planet in the solar system.
Juno left Earth in August 2011, is powered by solar panels, and will begin mapping the entirety of Jupiter during its planned 37 orbits over a 20-month period, reported Voice of America
. Researchers hope to discover new information about the planet's origin, structure, atmosphere, and magnetic forces.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is serving as mission control for the Juno mission.
"We have over five years of spaceflight experience and only 10 days to Jupiter orbit insertion," Rick Nybakken, Juno's project manager in California, said in a NASA statement
. "It is a great feeling to put all the interplanetary space in the rearview mirror and have the biggest planet in the solar system in our windshield."
Juno must still pass a critical test on its pre-burn itinerary: the pressurization of its propulsion system on Tuesday, reported NASA. Additionally, all instrumentation not geared toward Juno's successful insertion into Jupiter's orbit on July 4 will be turned off.
"If it doesn't help us get into orbit, it is shut down," Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator, said in the NASA statement. "That is how critical this rocket burn is. And while we will not be getting images as we make our final approach to the planet, we have some interesting pictures of what Jupiter and its moons look like from five-plus million miles away."
The Atlantic wrote
that building Juno for the trip to Jupiter was like building "an armored tank for outer space" because of the unique challenges the planet represents, including heavy doses of radiation.
"If you were sitting outside of this vault on our spacecraft, by the end of the mission, you would have gotten the equivalent of about 100 million dental x-rays — which would be like sitting in a dentist's chair getting an x-ray once a second, every second, for a bit over three years," Tracy Drain, a systems engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in "Destination Jupiter," a documentary on the project released last week.
NASA wrote that Juno's on-board cameras will be reactivated two days after the spacecraft achieves orbit. Researchers are expecting to receive images for public viewing in late August or early September.
"In the future we will see Jupiter's polar auroras from a new perspective," Bolton said in the NASA statement. "We will see details in rolling bands of orange and white clouds like never before, and even the Great Red Spot."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.