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Success in the first stage - Juno in orbit around Jupiter

The American spacecraft successfully completed the maneuver to enter orbit relatively close to the giant planet, and in a few months it will begin its main scientific mission

A simulation of Juno near Jupiter. The probe's massive solar panels can be clearly seen. Image: NASA
A simulation of Juno near Jupiter. The probe's massive solar panels can be clearly seen. Illustration: NASA

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The US space agency has successfully completed the maneuver to put the Juno spacecraft into orbit around the planet Jupiter. To complete a journey of 2.8 billion kilometers to Jupiter in less than five years, the spacecraft gained enormous speed - more than 250 km/h (about 10 times the speed of a space shuttle, which circled the Earth in an hour and a half). However, at such a speed, the spacecraft would pass by Jupiter, without entering orbit around it, so it turned on its engines for 35 minutes against the direction of movement to lower its speed and enter an elliptical orbit around the giant planet. In the closest part of the route it will fly about 5,000 km above the thick cloud layer that surrounds it.

In the first phase, the spacecraft will remain in this orbit for 53 days, and then make another slight orbit change and remain there for a similar period. Only in the fall will the spacecraft begin the scientific mission around Jupiter, in a series of highly elliptical orbits. All such a coffee will last almost two weeks, and they will bring her for a short time to a distance of about 4,000 km from him in the whole coffee (up to about 300 thousand km at the far end of the route).

Juno is equipped with a series of scientific instruments to measure various parameters of the planet Jupiter, trying to answer some of the very intriguing questions: Does Jupiter have a solid core, or is it all made of gas? Is its mass uniformly distributed, or do the inner and outer parts rotate at different speeds? How did Jupiter's massive magnetic field form? Is there also water vapor among the gases that make up the planet? How does its internal structure allow phenomena like the Great Red Spot - a mighty storm that has been raging for hundreds of years?

One of Juno's instruments is operated by an Israeli researcher, Dr. Yohai Caspi from the Weizmann Institute of Science. "His" device is a transmitter of radio waves. Accurate measurements of the waves will make it possible to determine whether they are affected by Jupiter's gravity differently in different places. Mapping the gravity with the help of radio waves will make it possible to understand how the mass of Jupiter is distributed inside the planet, and shed light on its internal structure. "Such missions provide a scientist with a unique opportunity to closely test his theories, to confirm or refute them," Caspi told the Davidson Institute website. "We don't know what we will discover, and it is very possible that new questions will emerge following the findings. That's what's beautiful - this mission will open new horizons for science."

The mission of the Juno spacecraft is expected to last about two years. The number of laps you will complete depends on the amount of fuel you will consume, and mainly on the question of how long its electronic devices will last. The spacecraft will be exposed around Jupiter to extremely intense radiation and a very strong magnetic field, which will over time damage the function of the electronics, even though it is protected behind a relatively thick metal layer. When the spacecraft finishes its mission, it will deliberately crash into the planet, and continue to transmit information from its atmosphere and even from within the planet itself, before being crushed by its gravity.

After a five-year journey in space, the mission team celebrated the success of entering orbit around Jupiter Source: NASA

Take out the juice

In 2030, another spacecraft, Juice, should arrive at Jupiter. It's a mission of the European Space Agency that is planned for launch in 2022 and is designed to study the moons of Jupiter, including trying to find out if there is liquid water under the thick layer of ice that covers their surface.

In this mission as well, Caspi is supposed to continue exploring the atmosphere of Jupiter itself, this time with the help of an Israeli device - a very accurate quartz watch built by the Jerusalem company AccuBeat with funding from the Israel Space Agency. "The clock, which was built at a cost of about five million dollars, will help us measure with great precision delays in the passage of radio waves through Jupiter's atmosphere," he says. "Such measurements will allow us to map it with great precision and understand phenomena that occur in it."

For information on the Davidson Institute website

2 תגובות

  1. A question to Iti Nevo, the Didson Institute, how long was the longest stay on the International Space Station, and how long did astronauts stay in?

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