Juno spacecraft completes one year in Jupiter orbit


Nasa's Juno spacecraft has logged exactly one year in Jupiter orbit on Monday at 10:30pm EDT.

At this time, the spacecraft covered up about 114.5 million kilometres in orbit around the planet.

Now on 10 July, Juno will fly directly over Jupiter's Great Red Spot, a 10,000-mile-wide storm.

This will be the first up-close view of the a storm, which has been monitored since 1830.

"This monumental storm has raged on the solar system's biggest planet for centuries."

Southwest Research Institute principal investigator of Juno Scott Bolton said: "Jupiter's mysterious Great Red Spot is probably the best-known feature of Jupiter.

"This monumental storm has raged on the solar system's biggest planet for centuries. Now, Juno and her cloud-penetrating science instruments will dive in to see how deep the roots of this storm go, and help us understand how this giant storm works and what makes it so special."

The data collection of this Great Red Spot is part of Juno's mission to study the planet’s cloud tops.

Perijove, the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter's center, will be on 10 July, at 69:55pm EDT. At this time, Juno will be 3,500km above the planet's cloud tops. After 11 minutes and 33 seconds, Juno will have covered another 39,771km and will be above the cloud tops of the storm.

The space vehicle will pass about 9,000km above the Giant Red Spot clouds.

The spacecraft's eight instruments and its JunoCam imager will be on during this period.

Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory project manager for Juno Rick Nybakken said: "The success of science collection at Jupiter is a testament to the dedication, creativity and technical abilities of the Nasa-Juno team.

"Each new orbit brings us closer to the heart of Jupiter's radiation belt, but so far the spacecraft has weathered the storm of electrons surrounding Jupiter better than we could have ever imagined."

Juno was launched on 5 August 2011 from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Juno is probing beneath the cloud cover of the giant planet and to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

The spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems.