June 30, 2016 3:43 pm
At 3:15 pm EDT today, NASA will send “command product JI4040” to its Juno spacecraft, initiating the Jupiter Orbit insertion sequence, which will end with Juno in orbit around the gas giant on the 4th of July.
It’s the next step on a journey that began on August 5, 2011 when Juno took off from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
You can find out everything you want to know about the Juno mission here on the NASA website.
NASA even did a series of videos about the mission with StarTalk’s own Bill Nye the Science Guy. Here’s our favorite:
This is a pretty amazing time for space exploration. In just a few short years, we’ve landed Curiosity and other rovers on Mars, Cassini has explored the neighborhood around Saturn, New Horizons reached Pluto and opened our eyes to unexpected wonders, Rosetta reached Comet 67P and Philae landed on it, and OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to take off for asteroid Bennu and bring back samples. (I’m sure I’m forgetting some others… just as I’m sure you’ll point that out in the comments below.)
But right now, this weekend, we’re going to begin to get our best look ever at the largest planet in our solar system. If the discoveries of the aforementioned missions are at all indicative of what we can expect from the Juno mission, we’re in for a heck of a show.
So, wherever you are this July 4th, take a break at 5:35pm EDT and look up, knowing that 534 million miles from Earth, our emissary, Juno, is about to expand the frontier of human knowledge and take us all along for the ride.
That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
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