Juno Probes The Secrets Of Jupiter

Download Audio

After a 1.7 billion mile journey, NASA’s Juno spacecraft is now safely in orbit around Jupiter. We’ll look at what’s coming from the massive planet.

This artist's rendering made available by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows the Juno spacecraft above Jupiter. (NASA and JPL-Caltech/AP))
This artist's rendering made available by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows the Juno spacecraft above Jupiter. (NASA and JPL-Caltech/AP)

A wild success, we think, for NASA this week, far far from Earth. On the Fourth of July, the space probe Juno – big as a basketball court – hit a tiny target after a 1.7 billion-mile journey and slipped into the orbit of massive Jupiter. It is fierce out there. It’s the biggest, oldest planet. More than 1000 times the volume of Earth. Its radiation belts are fierce. Its magnetic field is fierce. Its surface is stormy. Its core is a mystery. This hour On Point, the voyage to Jupiter, and what we hope to learn. — Tom Ashbrook


Fran Bagenal, co-investigator of NASA’s Juno Mission. Professor of astrophysical and planetary sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Co-editor of “Jupiter: The Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere.”

Kelly Beatty, senior editor at Sky & Telescope. (@nightskyguy)

From Tom’s Reading List

Sky & Telescope: NASA’s Juno Probe Reaches Jupiter -- "July 4th fireworks erupted in the outer solar system overnight, as the Juno probe fired its main engine and entered a polar orbit around Jupiter at 11:53 p.m. EDT (Earth receive time), which was 3:53 Universal Time (UT) on July 5th. Juno carried out a scheduled 35-minute-long burn that slowed its velocity by 542 meters per second (1,212 mph), enough to become a captured satellite of Jupiter with an initial 53.5-day orbital period. Arriving at 58 km per second with respect to the planet, Juno also performed the fastest orbital insertion to date."

Washington Post: Why scientists are so excited about the Juno probe that is finally orbiting Jupiter — "After five years hurtling through space, NASA’s Juno probe slipped into orbit around Jupiter, the biggest, oldest planet in our cosmic neighborhood, on the Fourth of July. As the world awoke Tuesday, scientists were abuzz with the possibility that the basketball-court-size spacecraft would help us understand how our solar system and all its planets and even life itself came to be."

WIRED: What's next for Juno's epic Jupiter mission? — "No spacecraft has ever passed this close to Jupiter before, but, shielded from the planet's vast radiation belts by its titanium cladding, Juno will look deep into the atmosphere to reveal clues about the origins of the planet and our solar system."

This program aired on July 8, 2016.


More from On Point

Listen Live