After travelling 1.8 billion miles, NASA’s Juno space probe has finally pulled into orbit around Jupiter today, June 5th, 2016, generating cheers and applause at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California.
Juno spacecraft was launched into space from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011, and its mission is to probe the origin of the solar system. It will analyse Jupiter’s composition, gravity and magnetic fields, polar magnetosphere, and track its auroras with the help of nine on-board instruments.
The spinning, robotic probe’s approach was the fastest ever attempted by a spacecraft going into orbit, at more than 200,000 kilometres per hour relative to Earth.
Over the course of 20 months, Juno will orbit Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, 37 times. Its first orbit will reportedly last 53 days, while subsequent orbits will be shorter than that. It will dive down to about 4,100 kilometres above the planet’s clouds.
The mission is set to conclude in February 2018 when, on its final orbit, Juno will enter Jupiter’s outer atmosphere, where it will burn up.
Before being pulled into Jupiter’s orbit, the probe built by Lockheed Martin captured the planet interacting with its four Galilean satellites – Io, Callisto, Ganymede and even Europa – something that had never been seen before. And we all can feast our eyes on the amazing time-lapse video, as NASA released it to the public and you can find it embedded below.