Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft mated to its rocket

Jul 28, 2011 By DC Agle, George Diller, and Trent J. Perrotto
NASA's Juno spacecraft passes in front of Jupiter in this artist's depiction. Juno, the second mission in NASA's New Frontiers program, will improve our understanding of the solar system by advancing studies of the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Juno spacecraft completed its last significant terrestrial journey today, July 27, with a 15-mile (25-kilometer) trip from Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., to its launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The solar-powered, Jupiter-bound spacecraft was secured into place on top of its rocket at 10:42 a.m. EDT (7:42 a.m. PDT).

Juno will arrive at Jupiter in July 2016 and orbit its poles 33 times to learn more about the gas giant's interior, atmosphere and aurora.

"We're about to start our journey to Jupiter to unlock the secrets of the ," said Scott Bolton, the mission's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "After eight years of development, the spacecraft is ready for its important mission."

Now that the Juno payload is atop the most powerful Atlas rocket ever made -- the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 -- a final flurry of checks and tests can begin and confirm that all is go for launch. The final series of checks begins Wednesday with an on-pad functional test. The test is designed to confirm that the spacecraft is healthy after the fueling, encapsulation and transport operations.

"The on-pad functional test is the first of seven tests and reviews that Juno and its flight team will undergo during the spacecraft's last 10 days on Earth," said Jan Chodas, Juno's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "There are a number of remaining pre-launch activities that we still need to focus on, but the team is really excited that the final days of preparation, which we've been anticipating for years, are finally here. We are ready to go."

The launch period for Juno opens Aug. 5, 2011, and extends through Aug. 26. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the opens at 11:34 a.m. EDT (8:34 a.m. PDT) and remains open through 12:43 p.m. EDT (9:43 a.m. PDT).

JPL manages the for principal investigator Scott Bolton. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about Juno is available at: http://www..gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu

Explore further: Europe postpones launch of first 'space plane'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA administrator visits jupiter-Bound spacecraft

May 06, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visited NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft on Thursday, May 5, 2011, at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla. The solar-powered ...

Jupiter-bound spacecraft arrives in Florida

Apr 11, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Juno spacecraft has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for a launch this summer. The spacecraft was shipped from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, to the Astrotech ...

Juno blanket check

Jun 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- As the Juno spacecraft is elevated by a rotation fixture, a technician at Astrotech's payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., examines the installation of blankets on the aft deck. ...

Juno processing continues in Florida

Jul 20, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Processing on NASA's Juno spacecraft continues with the spacecraft being inserted into its payload fairing yesterday, (July 18, 2011). The payload fairing acts as a protective cocoon that ...

Recommended for you

Hinode satellite captures X-ray footage of solar eclipse

2 hours ago

The moon passed between the Earth and the sun on Thursday, Oct. 23. While avid stargazers in North America looked up to watch the spectacle, the best vantage point was several hundred miles above the North ...

Asteroid 2014 SC324 zips by Earth Friday afternoon

11 hours ago

What a roller coaster week it's been. If partial eclipses and giant sunspots aren't your thing, how about a close flyby of an Earth-approaching asteroid?  2014 SC324 was discovered on September 30 this ...

User comments : 0