NASA's Juno Spacecraft To Enter Jupiter’s Orbit On July 4

On Monday night, July 4, NASA's Juno spacecraft is scheduled to end its five-year trip to Jupiter, the solar system's biggest planet.

According to Business Insider, this is the biggest space event of the year. NASA's un-crewed Juno spacecraft will lock on to Jupiter into a polar orbit and embark on a mission to study the planet. 

According to the online publication Space, Juno space probe will enter Jupiter's orbit at 11:18 p.m. EDT on Monday (0318 GMT on Tuesday). The key event is a 35-minute engine burn designed to slow the spacecraft enough in order to be captured by Jupiter's powerful gravity.

The solar-powered Juno will zoom right past the gas giant, in case that something goes wrong with this burn. The $1.1 billion mission has several science goals that include characterizing Jupiter's internal structure and mapping the planet's gravitational and magnetic fields.

Last week, Juno's nine science instruments were switched off before the Jupiter arrival. The instruments will begin being turning back on by mission team members about 50 hours after Juno probe's orbital insertion.

Over the next three months, these scientific instruments will be calibrated and used to study Jupiter. However, the Juno spacecraft will be ready to begin its official science mission only on Oct. 19, after it performs a last engine burn.

This 22-minute maneuver will move the Juno space probe into a 14-day highly elliptical orbit around the planet, if all goes according to plan. Over the course of more than 30 orbits, the Juno spacecraft is scheduled to observe Jupiter, gathering data that could shed light on the formation of the planet.

The Juno space probe will finally end its life in Feb. 2018, with an intentional death dive into Jupiter's atmosphere. The maneuver is designed to ensure that Juno doesn't contaminate with any Earth microbes the potentially life-hosting moon Europa.

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