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NASA Launches Juno Spacecraft to Jupiter Planet

On Friday NASA launched the Juno spacecraft on its journey to the planet Jupiter - it should arrive in 5 years!

On Friday NASA launched the Juno spacecraft on its journey to the planet Jupiter - it should arrive in 5 years!

The Atlas 5 rocket with the Juno spacecraft was successfully launched by NASA on Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida after a short delay due to a suspected helium leak. The spacecraft is heading to planet Jupiter, and is expected to arrive in the July of 2016 when it will orbit the planet for at least one year.

After that when its mission is completed, it is expected that the ship will be sent into the clouds of Jupiter so that it will not collide with any of the moons which surround the planet. Jupiter is thought to have about 50 moons. When Juno heads into the atmosphere of Jupiter it will burn up, and thus not cause a problem to the moons.

There is no opportunity to land on Jupiter, since scientists do not believe that there is any solid surface to land on as Jupiter appears to be all atmosphere with its swirling clouds made from ammonia and methane which give rise to the bands of color we usually associate with Jupiter. It is thought that deeper into the atmosphere these clouds just get thicker and thicker.

Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system, and it is hoped that Juno will be able to provide answers to the many questions scientists have about Jupiter, through the images it will take regularly as Juno rotates around Jupiter.

On board Juno are three figures, made by Lego, but not in the plastic we usually associate with Lego. These figures are made from aluminium so that they will be able to withstand the extreme conditions of flight through space, as well as the outer space extreme coldness.

The figures have been made to resemble Jupiter who was the Roman God of Thunder from which Jupiter gets its name, Juno the sister who the probe is named after, and Galileo who was the first astronomer to report that Jupiter had rings around it. NASA’s last probe was named Galileo and it arrived at its destination of Jupiter back in 1995. Lego made Jupiter holding a lightning bolt, while Juno holds a magnifying glass to help her in her search for the truth, and Galileo was made holding a tiny sphere representing Jupiter, as well as a telescope.

The spacecraft has been fitted with three large solar panels which will provide power for the Juno probe, despite the fact that the light reaching it from the sun will be from half a billion miles away and therefore quite weak. The cost of this Juno project is about $1.1 billion.

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Eric is an unashamed techno-geek (with an odd love of the outdoors) and one of the few people who can start a conversation in a roomful of similarly inclined techies and end up being the focal point for a crowd ... he also has the benefit of being able to speak and write in ways that are understandable to normal humans.

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