WINNIPEG – Five years and $1.8-billion later, a NASA spacecraft is about to come face to face with Jupiter.
This evening, the Juno spacecraft will perform a series of maneuvers including a 35-minute main engine burn to put the craft into Jupiter’s orbit, about 3,000 miles from the surface.
Scott Young with the Manitoba Planetarium tells Winnipeg’s Morning News Juno will get closer to the planet than the previous eight missions.
“We’ve seen Jupiter close up for a while. But the moons are actually the kinds of things that you want to watch over a long period of time. That’s harder to do from here on the earth.”
NASA hopes the craft can provide insight into Jupiter’s atmosphere, the makeup of its interior, and even provide clues into the formation of our solar system.
“The moon Europa has got this underground ocean and we have no idea what’s in there,” Young explains. “But we know that in the bottom of our ocean, even in the very deep parts there is life that is fed by volcanic vents and things like that. So we’re really excited to see what we might discover out of Europa.”
The overall journey to Jupiter covered 2.8-billion kilometres.