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JUNO: Jupiter has new visitor - a solar-powered spacecraft

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JUNO: Jupiter has new visitor - a solar-powered spacecraft

NASA mission control received a radio signal Monday night from the Juno spacecraft confirming that it's in orbit around the biggest planet in the solar system. In late August, the spacecraft swings back around Jupiter for its first close-in view. Then every two weeks, the spacecraft will skim Jupiter's clouds to peek into its stormy atmosphere. Juno will see Jupiter for what it really is, but first it must pass the trial of orbit insertion.

Previous missions to Jupiter have revealed stunning views of the planet's thick clouds and vivid auroras. Why are Jupiter's southern and northern lights the brightest in the solar system? Scientists are expecting the best photos and information yet from Juno. "We conquered Jupiter", Juno chief scientist Scott Bolton said during a post-mission briefing.

Named after Jupiter's cloud-piercing wife in Roman mythology, Juno is only the second mission created to spend time at Jupiter.

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In all it’s hoped the spacecraft will make 37 orbits around the planet and is expected to stay for 20 months. Its instruments will start to measure how much water is in the atmosphere.

Juno will also study how deep the trademark Great Red Spot goes and why the centuries-old storm has shrunk in recent years.

 

 

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