After a five year journey over 1.7 billion miles, the spacecraft Juno entered the orbit of Jupiter this week, beating all odds. Scott Bolton, the lead investigator on the Juno mission described it as the hardest thing NASA has ever done, saying, “We just did the hardest thing NASA has ever done”.
Now the world waits to see what Juno will discover about the solar system’s biggest planet. As we wait, scientists on the mission took to Reddit to answer the public’s questions about the mission. Quartz reported what they said:
- A mission like this takes a lot of time. It was first envisioned in the year 2000, a proposal was sent to NASA in 2004, and the hardware started being designed in 2006.
- We may be able to find out what Jupiter’s surface and core is made up of, something that is still unknown. Scientists are also looking to find out the origins of the planet, and that may give us a clue to the origins of Earth.
- The launch was the most nerve-wracking part of the mission. A NASA scientist explained on Reddit that it was scary because the Juno spacecraft is ‘the culmination of years of hard work by hundreds of people.’
The Juno spacecraft is the culmination of years of hard work by hundreds of people, and we put it on top of a giant tower of explosives to hurtle it into space. That was just a little scary.
- The public will be able to see images captured by Juno August 27th onwards.
- After its mission is completed, Juno will be intentionally destroyed in order to abide by ‘Planetary Protection’. This is because Jupiter’s moon Europa has water on its surface and is a frontrunner in the search for alien life. Scientists do not want to search for life on Europa, only to discover that the life found was brought over from Earth.