Washington | NASA’s Jupiter-bound solar-powered Juno spacecraft has successfully executed a manoeuvre to adjust its flight path, setting the stage for its rendezvous with the solar system’s largest planet.
Launched from Earth in 2011, the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in July this year to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit, NASA said. This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the Sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4, said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, US.
The Juno spacecraft’s thrusters consumed about 0.6 kilogrammes of fuel during the burn, and changed the spacecraft’s speed by 0.31 metres per second. At the time of the manoeuvre, Juno was about 82 million kilometres from Jupiter and approximately 684 million kilometres from Earth.
The next trajectory correction manoeuvre is scheduled for May 31 this year, NASA said. Juno was launched on August 5, 2011. The spacecraft will orbit the Jovian world 33 times, skimming to within 5,000 kilometres above the planet’s cloud tops every 14 days.
During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its aurorae to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
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