Jupiter, meet Juno | Science News


How much do we really know about Jupiter? The majestic gas giant of our solar system is shrouded in cloud cover and storms the last centuries. So the planet remains a bit of a mystery. That’s about to change. After nearly five years in space, NASA’s Juno probe will finally reach
Jupiter on July 4th. Juno’s arrival marks the start of an unprecedented peek beneath the planet’s clouds. The mechanical probe launched back in 2011. With a little help from Earth’s gravity,
Juno managed to slingshot itself toward Jupiter. The trip covered nearly 2.8 billion kilometers Once Juno reaches, Jupiter it will
need to reorient itself and slow down to hitch a ride in orbit with the giant
world. Juno will spend 20 months whizzing
around the planet 37 times. The probe will swoop by on an elongated track, buzzing Jupiter’s poles and skimming its clouds at a quarter of a million kilometers per hour. Here’s what that will look like from Juno’s perspective. This unique view will give Juno the opportunity to answer some big questions about Jupiter… like how much water does the gas giant
have? What do Jupiter’s auroras look like up close? And what can they tell us about the gas
giant’s magnetic field? Does Jupiter have a solid core or is the planet’s center gooey? Juno’s observations could reveal how the giant formed over four billion years ago. Understanding Jupiter’s beginnings also
provides a glimpse of our early solar system and how planets form in general. Juno’s arrival will be a soft opening for a much bigger show.