NASA's Juno Spacecraft Reaches Farthest Point In Its Jupiter Orbit, Apojove

First Posted: Aug 01, 2016 04:10 AM EDT

NASA's Juno spacecraft has finally reached the farthest point in its orbit of Jupiter for the first time, which is known as "apojove" on July 31 at 12:41 P.M. PDT (3:41 P.M. EDT) after five years. Apojove is about 5 million miles (8.1 million kilometers) from Jupiter.

Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said that for five years we've been focused on getting to Jupiter. He added that now they are there, and they are concentrating on beginning dozens of flybys of Jupiter to get the science they are after.

Meanwhile, Dr. Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager and from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that they are in excellent state of health, with the spacecraft and all the instruments fully checked out and ready for their first up-close look at Jupiter.

Juno was launched on August 5, 2011. It arrived at the giant planet on July 4. It fired its main rocket engine as planned for 35 minutes. It will fire its engine once more to shorten its orbital period to 14 days and begin its science mission, according to NASA.

On the other hand, Juno must finish first its first lap around Jupiter on August 27, 2016. This will be the closest encounter over the gas giant. At this encounter, Juno will fly past Jupiter at a mere 2,600 miles (4,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops.

On its science mission, Juno will investigate Jupiter's deep structure, atmospheric circulation and high-energy physics of its magnetic environment. It will also reveal clues to Jupiter's formation and evolution. These include insights about how the planetary system and others are built.

According to JPL NASA, Juno will orbit the giant planet 37 times. It will execute a close flyby above the planet's clouds tops every 14 days during its almost one-and-a-half-year science phase of the mission.


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