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Where is the Juno Spacecraft right now?
The app above shows the trajectory of the Juno Spacecraft and where it is right now. You can also wind the animation backwards in time to watch its launch and its flyby of the Earth before entering Jupiter Orbit in 2016, and crashing into Jupiter at the end of its mission in 2018.
Juno is now in orbit about Jupiter
Juno Flight Path
Juno was launched on the 5th of August, 2011, and entered into orbit about Jupiter on July 4th 2016 and will study the planet until February 2018 when it will de-orbit and crash into Jupiter.
Juno's mission is intended to improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Specifically, Juno will…
- Determine how much water is in Jupiter's atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
- Look deep into Jupiter's atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
- Map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet's deep structure
- Explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the planet's poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter's northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet's enormous magnetic force field affects its atmosphere.
What's so special about Juno?
Juno is only the second proble to orbit Jupiter (Galileo being the first) and gets in much closer to Jupiter. Its 14 day polar orbit is highly elliptical with the probe passing very close to the planet at its nearest approach, and skimming only 4300km above the planets cloud surface. This means that it passes through Jupiter’s intense magnetosphere which has radiation levels that would fry most electronics (or people if they could get there) very quickly. Juno's sensitive electronics are armoured within 1 cm thick titanium walls which will help to reduce the radiation significantly.
It only has to endure the radiation at closest approach (some 2-3 hours at a go) but will spend most of its orbit further out in a more benign environment. However some of its sensors are not expected to last the entire 37 orbit mission.
The major features of Juno's flightpath are listed here:
|Earth, Launch||5 August 2011|
|Earth, Flyby speed boost||October 2013|
|Jupiter, Orbit Insertion||4 July 2016|
|37 Orbits of Jupiter|
|De-orbit into Jupiter||February 2018|