Powered by solar energy, NASA’s Juno spacecraft has performed a maneuver necessary to right its flight path to Jupiter; the necessary maneuver was performed on Wednesday, February 3. With the repositioning of its trajectory, Juno’s arrival on Jupiter is assured to occur within the next five months and one day.
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"This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4th at 8:18 p.m. PDT [11:18 p.m. EDT]," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
NASA wrote that the maneuver occurred at about 10:38 am PST (1:38 pm EST), prompting about 1.3 pounds (0.6kg) of fuel to be consumed during the process, with the speed of the spacecraft changed by 1 foot (0.31 meters) per second.
The spacecraft was nearly 51 million miles (82 million kilometers) away from the largest planetary body in our solar system during the burn, and about 425 million miles (684 million kilometers) away from the Earth. NASA technicians expect that the next trajectory correction for the spacecraft would happen on May 31.
The spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011 and should reach its destination in the next 5 months, after which it will orbit Jupiter 33 at about 31,000 miles (5,000 kilometers) above the planet every 14 days. During the flyby, Juno will investigate the cloud over Jupiter and analyze its aurorae to understand the Jovian world’s origin, structure, composition, atmosphere, and magnetosphere.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
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Juno is part of NASA's New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.