NASA's Juno spacecraft refines its path to Jupiter

Feb 03, 2012 By DC Agle
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

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully refined its flight path Wednesday with the mission's first trajectory correction maneuver. The maneuver took place on Feb. 1. It is the first of a dozen planned rocket firings that, over the next five years, will keep Juno on course for its rendezvous with Jupiter.

"We had a maneuver planned soon after launch but our Atlas V rocket gave us such a good ride we didn't need to make any trajectory changes," said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It is good to get another first under our belt. This burn couldn't have gone any better."

The , which adjusts the spacecraft's flight path, began at 10:10 a.m. PST (1:10 p.m. EST) on Feb. 1. The Juno spacecraft's thrusters fired for 25 minutes, consumed about 6.9 pounds (3.11 kilograms) of fuel and changed the spacecraft's speed by 3.9 feet, or 1.2 meters, per second. The next big maneuver for Juno will occur in late August of 2012 when Juno executes its first of two deep space maneuvers to set the stage for its - and gravity assist - on its way to Jupiter.

Launched on Aug. 5, 2011, Juno is 182 days and 279 million miles (449 million kilometers) into its five-year, 1,740-million-mile (2,800-million-kilometer) journey to Jupiter. Once in orbit, the spacecraft will orbit the planet's poles 33 times and use its collection of eight to probe beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud cover to learn more about Jupiter's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.

Juno's name comes from Greek and Roman mythology. The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife, the goddess , was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature.

Explore further: Google exec makes record skydive from edge of space

Related Stories

Jupiter-bound space probe captures Earth and Moon

Aug 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- On its way to the biggest planet in the solar system -- Jupiter, NASA's Juno spacecraft took time to capture its home planet and its natural satellite -- the moon.

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. ...

NASA awards Juno Jupiter mission contract

Oct 04, 2007

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has picked Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services of Littleton, Colo., for the Juno mission to Jupiter.

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 ...

Recommended for you

Hinode satellite captures X-ray footage of solar eclipse

Oct 24, 2014

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 ...

User comments : 0