More than a decade after the last manmade spacecraft orbited the biggest planet in our Solar System, NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States has scored another ‘space victory’ after its Juno spacecraft entered the orbit of Jupiter on July 4, 2016.
As the country celebrated its 240th Independence Day, the space agency announced on Monday via its official website that Juno successfully entered the gas giant’s orbit, and it received the confirmation of completion at exactly 8:53 p.m. EDT of that day.
On its website, NASA said Juno pierced through Jupiter’s orbit after the spacecraft’s 35-minute engine burn. The agency’s administrator, Charlie Bolden, has told the press that the US Independence Day is something to celebrate, but Juno’s arrival at Jupiter is another “reason to cheer.” He also borrowed a popular quote from the movie Star Trek without splitting an infinitive.
“And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before?” Bolden said. He also added that Juno will investigate the planet’s radiation belts and in so doing will reveal the secrets of its interior, how it was born, and how our Solar System had evolved.
Juno is the first NASA mission to send a solar-powered spacecraft to another region in the Solar System. On January 13 of this year, NASA announced that it has broken the long-distance record for solar-powered spacecrafts, beating the former record holder, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, with orbit peaked out at the 492-million-mile mark during its approach to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in October 2012.
“NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter has broken the record to become humanity’s most distant solar-powered emissary,” it said. “The milestone occurred at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST, 19:00 UTC) on Wednesday, Jan. 13, when Juno was about 493 million miles (793 million kilometers) from the sun.” Figures has since changed. On the same day, NASA uploaded a video presentation showing Juno at more than 10 million miles from Jupiter on June 12, to its vantage point at 3 million miles from the gas giant this month.