Juno’s orbital insertion

2016-07-04

in Bombs and rockets, Geek stuff, Science, Space and flight

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft, designed to study Jupiter’s magnetic field to help us better understand the planet and solar system, will be burning its main engine to circularize its orbit around the gas giant later today:

At about 12:15 pm PDT today (3:15 p.m. EDT), mission controllers will transmit command product “ji4040” into deep space, to transition the solar-powered Juno spacecraft into autopilot. It will take nearly 48 minutes for the signal to cover the 534-million-mile (860-million-kilometer) distance between the Deep Space Network Antenna in Goldstone, California, to the Juno spacecraft. While sequence ji4040 is only one of four command products sent up to the spacecraft that day, it holds a special place in the hearts of the Juno mission team.

“Ji4040 contains the command that starts the Jupiter Orbit insertion sequence,” said Ed Hirst, mission manager of Juno from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “As soon as it initiates — which should be in less than a second — Juno will send us data that the command sequence has started.”

When the sequence kicks in, the spacecraft will begin running the software program tailored to carry the solar-powered, basketball court-sized spacecraft through the 35-minute burn that will place it in orbit around Jupiter.

The spacecraft has been on its way since August 2011 and will be just the second spacecraft to ever orbit our solar system’s largest planet. The first was Galileo, which orbited from 1995 to 2003.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 9, 2016 at 2:38 am
. May 30, 2017 at 12:39 am

NASA’s Jupiter Mission Reveals the ‘Brand-New and Unexpected’

The top and bottom of Jupiter are pockmarked with a chaotic mélange of swirls that are immense storms hundreds of miles across. The planet’s interior core appears bigger than expected, and swirling electric currents are generating surprisingly strong magnetic fields. Auroral lights shining in Jupiter’s polar regions seem to operate in a reverse way to those on Earth. And a belt of ammonia may be rising around the planet’s equator.

Those are some early findings of scientists working on NASA’s Juno mission, an orbiter that arrived at Jupiter last July.

Juno takes 53 days to loop around Jupiter in a highly elliptical orbit, but most of the data gathering occurs in two-hour bursts when it accelerates to 129,000 miles an hour and dives to within about 2,600 miles of the cloud tops. The spacecraft’s instruments peer far beneath, giving glimpses of the inside of the planet, the solar system’s largest.

. July 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm

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