MIAMI: After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA's Juno spacecraft has reached Jupiter and successfully entered its orbit.
“Juno, welcome to Jupiter,” said mission control commentator Jennifer Delavan of Lockheed Martin, which built Juno.
In the background, scientists could be seen cheering, clapping and hugging each other.
The Juno spacecraft mission cost $1.1 billion dollars and launched on August, 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
“With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved,” said NASA administrator Charlie Bolden.
Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno tracking data monitored at the navigation facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as well as at the Lockheed Martin Juno operations center in Littleton, Colorado.
Over the next few months, Juno’s mission and science teams will perform final testing on the spacecraft’s subsystems, final calibration of science instruments and some science collection.
“Our official science collection phase begins in October, but we’ve figured out a way to collect data a lot earlier than that,” said Bolton. “Which when you’re talking about the single biggest planetary body in the solar system is a really good thing. There is a lot to see and do here.”
Juno's principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet's auroras.
The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter also can provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems been discovered around other stars.