NASA's Juno Space Probe On its Way to Explore Jupiter
Juno is a NASA space probe that is on its way to explore Jupiter. The mission started from Cape Canaveral in August 2011. Juno is expected to reach Jupiter’s orbit in July 2016. The high tech spacecraft is named after the Roman and Greek goddess Juno.
It is the first attempt by NASA to rely on solar panels for power. Even though Jupiter get’s only 4% of the sunlight that we receive on earth, it produces enough power to propel the space probe to the solar system’s largest planet.
When Juno reaches Jupiter’s orbit it will move under the planet’s gas cloud and try to learn more about its origin and structure. Juno will orbit Jupiter 33 times around the poles in an attempt to learn more about Jupiter’s magnetic fields. Another mystery that scientists want Juno to reveal is how thick the gas atmosphere really is and if there is a possible solid core.
Artist's drawing of the Juno space probe shortly before reaching Jupiter
Jupiter is most interesting to NASA because it is the biggest planet and has more mass than all the other planets and asteroids combined. The planet is the most sun-like planet in our solar system. It is a gas giant that is similar to the sun in many ways. It is made up of hydrogen and helium and has many moons circling around it. In contrast to the sun, however, it does not produce light and heat.
By studying Jupiter from close range NASA expects to find more details as to how our solar system was formed.
Juno is NASA’s first mission to Jupiter since Galileo was launched in 1989. After reaching the planet in 1995 it orbited the gas giant and sent back data until 2003. When the Saturn probe Cassini flew past Jupiter in 2000 it sent over 20,000 images back to earth, the most detailed pictures of Jupiter up to now.
After Juno’s mission is finished it will crash into Jupiter’s surface.
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- attempt = try
- close range = very near
- combined = together
- core = the inner part of a planet
- crash = hit
- data = information
- expect = will probably
- explore = to travel to other places and find out more about them
- giant = very, very big
- goddess = female god
- helium = gas that is lighter than air, used to make balloons rise
- however = but
- hydrogen = a colourless gas ; it forms water when combined with oxygen
- image = picture
- in contrast to = with a difference
- launch = start, take off
- magnetic field = an area around an object that has magnetic power
- mass = the amount of material in something
- mission = journey, trip
- mystery = something that we cannot explain
- orbit = to travel around an object in a circle
- origin = beginning
- propel = to move forward
- reach = get to
- receive = get
- rely = to depend on something
- reveal = show
- scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a laboratory
- similar = like
- solar panel = a piece of metal that collects the sun’s light to produce energy
- solar system = the sun and the planets that move around it
- solid = hard, rocky
- space probe = spaceship without people in it, that is sent to planets to collect information
- structure = what it is made of
- surface = the top part of an object