NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted
off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:25 p.m. EDT Friday to
begin a five-year journey to Jupiter.
Juno's detailed study of the largest planet in our solar system will
help reveal Jupiter's origin and evolution. As the archetype of giant
gas planets, Jupiter can help scientists understand the origin of our
solar system and learn more about planetary systems around other
"Today, with the launch of the Juno spacecraft, NASA began a journey
to yet another new frontier," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
"The future of exploration includes cutting-edge science like this to
help us better understand our solar system and an ever-increasing
array of challenging destinations."
Juno will cover the distance from Earth to the moon (about 250,000
miles or 402,236 kilometers) in less than one day's time. It will
take another five years and 1,740 million miles (2,800 million
kilometers) to complete the journey to Jupiter. The spacecraft will
orbit the planet's poles 33 times and use its collection of eight
science instruments to probe beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud
cover to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere, and
magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core.
With four large moons and many smaller moons, Jupiter forms its own
miniature solar system. Its composition resembles a star's, and if it
had been about 80 times more massive, the planet could have become a
"Jupiter is the Rosetta Stone of our solar system," said Scott Bolton,
Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute
in San Antonio. "It is by far the oldest planet, contains more
material than all the other planets, asteroids and comets combined
and carries deep inside it the story of not only the solar system but
of us. Juno is going there as our emissary -- to interpret what
Jupiter has to say."
Juno's name comes from Greek and Roman mythology. The god Jupiter drew
a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife,
the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and reveal
Jupiter's true nature.
The NASA Deep Space Network, or DSN, is an international network of
antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio
and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar
system and the universe. The network also supports selected
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno
mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest
Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the
New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the
spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility
of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in