Google doodle celebrates Juno probe reaching Jupiter’s orbit
Google has celebrated the Juno probe reaching the orbit of Jupiter today with an interactive doodle.
The NASA satellite reached the polar orbit around Jupiter at 4.54am this morning, travelling 500 million miles in five years.Read more ↓
The doodle was released to celebrate the ‘incredible moment of human achievement’ and shows the probe adjacent to the gas giant, twirling in the Google logo.
Next to that, six NASA scientists can be seen jumping up and down in celebration, with three emojis being transmitted to the probe.
Writing about the doodle on their blog, Google said: ‘Juno’s five year, 500 million mile journey will culminate in a treasure trove of new pictures and measurements taken by its nine instruments. What Juno tells us about Jupiter will detail the planet’s magnetic and gravitational fields and interior structure, revealing how it was formed and providing clues to our own planet’s humble beginnings.
‘In satellite terms, Juno is a warrior. Building the 3,500-pound device for Jupiter’s brutal atmosphere took seven years and countless hours of testing. NASA scientists equipped Juno with titanium shields to withstand pummeling rocks, powerful radiation, and freezing temperatures. It’s armor will keep it safe and working properly over its year-long polar orbit collecting data about Jupiter.
‘Today’s Doodle celebrates this incredible moment of human achievement. Bravo, Juno!’
NASA’s hardest mission yet
The Juno space probe arrived in the orbit of Jupiter after a five-year, 1.4 billion-mile voyage.
The spacecraft completed a high-stakes manoeuvre that saw it fire a rocket to slow its 150,000 mph (250,000 kph) approach to the gas giant.
Cheers and applause erupted from mission control at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology when the signal arrived confirming the burn was complete.
The mission’s chief scientist, Scott Bolton, congratulated his team, saying ‘you’ve just done the hardest thing Nasa’s ever done’.
The mission still faces the huge challenge of operating the 1.1 billion dollar (£890 million) probe in one of the solar system’s harshest environments.
Where conditions such as circuitry-frying levels of radiation and high velocity dust and particles will be a constant threat.
Should all go to plan, Juno’s instruments and camera could provide insights into the history of the solar system and return stunning images of the planet.
The spacecraft began the perilous final stage of its journey in the early hours of this morning with a 35-minute blast from its rocket engine.
It was a critical moment for Juno, with a risk the probe may have shot past the planet and into oblivion if the scientists’ calculations were not absolutely correct.
They planned to bring the spacecraft within 2,900 miles of Jupiter’s swirling cloud tops, a region of space blasted by the highest levels of radiation in the solar system.
The titanium armoured probe’s mission is to improve our understanding of Jupiter’s formation and evolution by using an array of complex instruments to peer through the thick atmosphere and its famous Great Red Spot.
It will be some time before Juno begins beaming data and images back to Earth, but scientists hope that analysis of Jupiter’s interior structure will also help them understand the history and formation of the wider solar system.
Dubbed the ‘biggest, baddest planet in the solar system’ by the Juno team, Jupiter is surrounded by a field of high radiation streaked with particles energised by its immensely strong magnetic field.
It also has a ring of dust and rock similar to its neighbour, Saturn, which also pose a threat to the probe.
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