NASA's Juno Spacecraft Has Entered Orbit Around Jupiter
Juno left Earth in 2011 and is designed to study how Jupiter formed. It began circling the planet late Monday after an “orbit insertion burn.”
NASA / Via nasa.gov
Juno began circling the planet after an “orbit insertion burn.” Applause broke out in NASA’s control room Monday night as the burn finished and a nearly two-year mission to gather data about Jupiter began.
Though the spacecraft had been traveling for nearly five years, the stakes Monday night had never been higher: Had Juno overshot its mark, it would have sped off into deep space; had it come too close to the planet, it would have been destroyed. In either case, the mission would have been lost.
Applause also repeatedly broke out in NASA’s control room Monday night as Juno began its burn, then continued burning long enough to avoid destruction.
Mike Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said on live video Monday night that the orbit “looks perfect” and that he felt a “combination of excitement and relief.”
“This is the beginning of the science mission,” he added.