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Juno yields to Jupiter's gravitational embrace

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Henry Booker
May 31, 2016 13:32
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Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on Friday: "Today the gravitational influence of Jupiter is neck and neck with that of the Sun.

As of tomorrow, and for the rest of the mission, we project Jupiter's gravity will dominate as the trajectory-perturbing effects by other celestial bodies are reduced to insignificant roles."

During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its auroras to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere."

Pic: NASA / JPL-Caltech

The orbital path is designed to dodge Jupiter's radiation belts - "analogous to Earth's Van Allen belts, but far more deadly" - although the vehicle's sensitive bits are contained in a "radiation shielded electronics vault".

The science instruments draw full power "for only about six hours out of each 11-day orbit" as Juno makes its closest approaches to Jupiter.

Pic: NASA

Juno is named after the wife and sister of Roman god Jupiter, who "drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief", although his missus was able to "peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature".

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Henry Booker
May 31, 2016 13:32
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