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NASA spacecraft JUNO to arrive at Jupiter today after 5 years

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ka6OERznXh4

The stakes and the risks are high for a NASA spacecraft's long-awaited arrival at Jupiter tonight (July 4).

The Juno probe is scheduled to enter orbit around Jupiter tonight at 11:53 p.m. EDT (0353 GMT on Tuesday), after a crucial 35-minute engine burn. If something goes seriously wrong with this maneuver, Juno will sail right past the gas giant, and 15 years of mission planning will go out the window.

"It's make or break for us," Juno project manager Rick Nybakken, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said here at JPL during a news conference today. [Juno's Dangerous Plunge Into Jupiter Orbit (Video)]

Juno will perform the burn on autopilot; it currently takes light 48 minutes to get from Earth to Jupiter, so there's no way to command such a maneuver in anything close to real time.

 

But Juno, which launched in August 2011, won't be in the clear even if the engine burn goes well. The solar-powered probe will be pointed away from the sun during this maneuver, and it must re-orient itself quickly in the aftermath.

An image captured by the Very Large Telescope shows the radiation "donut" that surrounds Jupiter. The yellow spot on the right is where the radiation is most intense. The Juno probe will fly between the planet and the radiation hot spots.
An image captured by the Very Large Telescope shows the radiation "donut" that surrounds Jupiter. The yellow spot on the right is where the radiation is most intense. The Juno probe will fly between the planet and the radiation hot spots.
Credit: NASA TV/Scott Bolton/Juno Mission/Very Large Telescope
"The whole game is, get back to the sun before you run out of battery," said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "We've got to get blood flowing through Juno's veins again."

If all goes according to plan, Juno should begin pointing back toward the sun at 12:07 a.m. EDT (0407 GMT), mission officials said.

http://www.space.com/33340-juno-jupiter-arrival-tonight-risks.html

Juno passes Jupiter's inner moons
After a nearly five-year journey, Juno is passing Jupiter's inner moons as it readies for the closest encounter with the biggest planet in the solar system.

The spacecraft will fire its main rocket engine tonight to slow itself down from a speed of 150,000 mph (250,000 kph) and slip into orbit around Jupiter.

Juno chief scientist Scott Bolton said at a morning briefing that the spacecraft is expected to survive rings of debris and a hostile radiation environment because it's "built like an armored tank."

 

NASA released a series of images taken last week during the approach, showing the destination planet glowing yellow in the distance, circled by its four inner moons.

Scientists have promised close-up views of Jupiter when Juno skims the cloud tops during the 20-month, $1.1 billion mission. 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/07/04/nasas-juno-spacecraft-arrives-at-jupiter-after-five-year-journey/

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