NASA reaches Jupiter and a SpaceX rocket explodes: The year of milestones in space

(From L) Geoff Yoder, acting administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Diane Brown, NASA Juno program executive, Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, Juno Project manager Rick Nybakken, Guy Beutelschies,and Lockheed Martin director of space exploration, celebrate at a press conference after the Juno spacecraft was successfully placed into Jupiter's orbit, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on July 4, 2016.

Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

(From L) Geoff Yoder, acting administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Diane Brown, NASA Juno program executive, Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, Juno Project manager Rick Nybakken, Guy Beutelschies,and Lockheed Martin director of space exploration, celebrate at a press conference after the Juno spacecraft was successfully placed into Jupiter’s orbit, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California on July 4, 2016.

After five years of flying through space, NASA’s unmanned Juno spacecraft in July finally reached its destination: Jupiter.

Launched in 2011, Juno is the second craft launched as part of NASA’s New Frontiers program. The mission’s purpose, according to NASA, is to peer into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure water levels, temperature, and the movement of atmospheric clouds. It is also measuring the planet’s massive magnetic field.

“Juno is very special because it is one of those rare missions where it is entirely focused on looking inside Jupiter,” Curt Niebur, lead program scientist for New Frontiers, told CNBC in July. Being covered with and largely composed of gaseous elements, Jupiter does not have the kind of same kind of rocky surface a planet like Mars or Earth has.

“With the instruments and techniques we are using, we can unzip the planet and really peer inside it and understand what its deepest internal structure is,” Niebur said.

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