Saturday 25 February 2017

Juno's epic five year Jupiter mission in numbers

Ryan Wilkinson

An artist’s rendering shows the Juno spacecraft above Jupiter, as it is about to go into orbit around the planet.
An artist’s rendering shows the Juno spacecraft above Jupiter, as it is about to go into orbit around the planet.

Nasa's 1.1 billion dollar (£890 million) mission to Jupiter passed a major milestone when the Juno probe entered orbit on Tuesday morning.

Here are some of the headline figures from the epic five-year voyage across space:

:: 1.8 billion miles (2.8 billion kilometres)

That is the total distance travelled from launch to arrival. Juno's journey was not straightforward. Because the rocket that carried Juno was not powerful enough to boost it directly to Jupiter, it took a longer route. It looped around the inner solar system and then swung by Earth, using our planet as a gravity slingshot to hurtle toward the outer solar system.

:: 48 minutes, 19 seconds

That is the time it took for radio signals from Jupiter to reach Earth. During the encounter, Juno fired its main engine for about a half hour to slow down. By the time ground controllers receive word, the engine burn was completed, placing Juno in orbit.

:: 20 months

That is how long the mission will last. Because Juno is in a harsh radiation environment, its delicate electronics are housed in a special titanium vault. Eventually, Juno will succumb to the intense radiation and will be commanded to plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere to avoid any collision with the planet's moons.

:: Nine

Juno carries a suite of nine instruments to explore Jupiter from its interior to its atmosphere. It will map Jupiter's gravity and magnetic fields and track how much water is in the atmosphere. Its colour camera dubbed JunoCam will snap close-ups of Jupiter's swirling clouds, polar regions and shimmering southern and northern lights.

:: Three

Three massive solar wings extend from Juno, making it the most distant solar-powered spacecraft. The panels can generate 500 watts of electricity, enough to power the instruments.

Press Association

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