NASA’s Juno probe just made it into Jupiter’s orbit
NASA’s Juno space probe has just made it into Jupiter’s orbit, and it’s the beginning of another, even closer look at the largest planet in our solar system. The probe actually made it into orbit yesterday, and the first stage of the mission was complete after a complex slowing-down manoeuvre.
Juno was approaching Jupiter at more than 120,000mph, which would have broken through the planet’s gravitational pull, so scientists slowed the probe down by 1,200mph so it could be captured by Jupiter’s gravity. The whole process took around 35 extremely anxious minutes to verify.
Interestingly, Jupiter is so far away from the Earth that messages take around 50 minutes to travel to and from NASA and the probe. That means by the time NASA confirmed Juno was slowing down, it was already in orbit.
That was probably the most dangerous part of Juno’s 5 year journey, and the probe is now about to unfurl its solar panels and get to the actual task at hand. Juno is carrying 9 instruments designed to collect data on Jupiter, and now that the probe is relatively safe, they’ll be turned on over the next 24 hours.