Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft mated to its rocket

July 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: Image: Jupiter spacecraft nearing completion

Related Stories

Jupiter-bound spacecraft arrives in Florida

April 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 payload processing ...

NASA administrator visits jupiter-Bound spacecraft

May 6, 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 Juno spacecraft ...

Juno blanket check

June 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. The image was ...

Juno processing continues in Florida

July 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 will shield Juno ...

Recommended for you

Footprints of baby planets in a gas disk

May 24, 2016

A new analysis of the ALMA data for a young star HL Tauri provides yet more firm evidence of baby planets around the star. Researchers uncovered two gaps in the gas disk around HL Tauri. The locations of these gaps in the ...

Hubble finds clues to the birth of supermassive black holes

May 24, 2016

Astrophysicists have taken a major step forward in understanding how supermassive black holes formed. Using data from Hubble and two other space telescopes, Italian researchers have found the best evidence yet for the seeds ...

Potential habitats for early life on Mars

May 24, 2016

Recently discovered evidence of carbonates beneath the surface of Mars points to a warmer and wetter environment in that planet's past. The presence of liquid water could have fostered the emergence of life.

Scientists discover fresh lunar craters

May 23, 2016

A Southwest Research Institute-led team of scientists discovered two geologically young craters—one 16 million, the other between 75 and 420 million, years old—in the Moon's darkest regions.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.