“Juno, welcome to Jupiter.”
Those were the words heard at NASA headquarters when the Juno spacecraft finally launched into Jupiter’s orbit today.
At 1.18pm AEST, the spacecraft killed its engines to slow down and be dragged into Jupiter’s gravitational pull.
“You’re the best team ever! We just did the hardest thing NASA has ever done,” shouted, principle investigator of the Juno mission, Scott Bolton, as a three-second beep confirmed Juno had entered orbit.
— NASA (@NASA) July 5, 2016
Australians were the first in the world to discover the probe had successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, as the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex received the first faint signal tones from the spacecraft.
It’s been a mission fifteen years and $1.46 billion dollars in the making. The spacecraft has travelled 2.7 billion kilometres since its launch in 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Now the spacecraft has successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, NASA hopes to learn about the composition of Jupiter’s core, the mystery of the Great Red Spot and even the origins of our solar system.
Juno will circle the gas giant 37 times over the next 20 months, skimming to within 5000 kilometres above the cloud tops.
Jupiter through the eyes of NASA's Juno Spacecraft