Tag Archives: solar energy

Over a Billion Miles – A Journeys End for Juno

I’ve been travelling a lot this past few months hence the radio silence. But one radio event that has come into view albeit on a more cosmic scale is the latest news that Juno NASA’s Jupiter mission probe is entering its last phase of an extremely long journey.  So I’d thought I’d dedicate this next post to a subject that is close to the title of my blog and draw on the analogy this brings.

We can only wonder at the immense feat this has accomplished.


Over half a solar system away, NASA’s $Billion Juno space probe is getting ready to fire its breaking rockets in a final push to enter Jupiter’s orbit on a day that has become popular for spaceflight landmarks — the 4th of July. Juno’s five-year, nearly 2 billion mile journey is expected to come to an end just like other missions that have shared special events on America’s Independence Day, like the touchdown of the Mars Pathfinder in 1997 and a comet collision as part of the Deep Impact mission in 2013.
The Juno mission is designed to peer beneath Jupiter’s thick clouds and to see what’s inside. That, in turn, may yield clues to how our entire solar system came to be. “It formed first, so its formation, its gravity, will have affected the other planets as they formed,” Juno Project Scientist Gary Levin told USA TODAY. This is not NASA’s first visit to Jupiter. Besides several flyby missions, the Galileo spacecraft studied Jupiter and its moons from 1995 until 2003. But Galileo avoided getting too close to Jupiter’s intense, electronics-frying radiation. Juno’s mission is focused entirely on Jupiter itself — no moons – and takes a much more dangerous approach. The mission’s vicinity will allow Juno to measure Jupiter’s gravity, magnetic field, and microwaves, which scientists can use to determine its composition.
One of the most intriguing questions is whether Jupiter is entirely gas or has a solid core deep in its center.“Right now our best theorists think that deep inside Jupiter … is this dense core somewhere between three and twenty times the mass of earth.
We have no direct evidence at all,” says Levin. Juno’s gravity readings should help confirm or refute that theory. Juno’s measurements should also allow scientists to estimate the amount of water on Jupiter and shed new light on how the planet was formed. “The water all by itself will tell us a lot about those theories of formation because if it formed from clumps of ice you’re going get a different amount of water than if it formed from the same cloud of dust that formed the sun,” Levin says.Although Juno is the second craft to orbit Jupiter, its design is quite different from the earlier one. For one, to address the dangers of dipping inside the radiation belts, the engineers built a titanium vault to shield the spacecraft’s electronics. 
Juno’s flight plan will take it though a complex pattern of elliptical orbits that dive beneath the belts, but quickly reemerge, limiting the exposure to once every two weeks.Another mission first is Juno’s massive solar panels. Jupiter’s distance from the sun—nearly five times that of earth—means Juno only receives a small fraction of the solar energy available to Earth satellites. Engineers were forced to build huge panels to capture enough energy to deliver what is still a modest amount of power. Power being the operative word as the craft has to slow down from travelling 168,000 mph to close to Mach 2.
Imagine experiencing the breaking G force on that ..at our earths gravity level. Beyond comprehension!!!! As stateside people get ready to celebrate with their pyrotechnics maybe the best fireworks this 4th of July will be in Jupiters orbit, 365 million miles away. But all you space buffs out there will have to be patient. As all the images and footage from Junos’ cameras will take some time to reach us here on planet Earth. For one I’ll be looking forward to seeing Jupiters Aurora’s in all their glory. I wonder how they compare to the lightshow so evident in our own Northern Hemisphere.

To all you reaching for the stars and fulfilling your life’s potential.

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