August 31, 2011
Juno Sends Back Image Of The Earth And Moon
NASA´s Juno spacecraft, on its way to visit the solar system´s giant Jupiter, took a look back at Earth and the Moon and snapped a photo, reports BBC News.
The image was taken as part of the mission team´s inspection of the spacecraft. The team is conducting detailed checks on Juno´s instruments and subsystems after its launch.
The Jupiter-bound spacecraft was launched on August 5 and is expected to arrive at the gas giant sometime in 2016. The photo of Earth was just a pale blue dot nearly 6 million miles away. Juno will need to sweep back by Earth in 2013 to get a gravitational assist that will be enough to slingshot it toward Jupiter.
Juno covered the distance from the Earth to the Moon -- 250,000 miles -- in less than a day, but it will take another five years for it to travel the 1.74 million miles to complete its journey to Jupiter.
The space probe will orbit the gas giant for a little over a year, orbiting the poles 33 times. It will use its instruments to study the material beneath the planet´s cloud cover to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and to also search for signs of a potential solid planetary core.
Juno is poised to set a record for the most distant spacecraft powered by solar energy. Once at Jupiter, the spacecraft will only receive about 1/25th the intensity of the Sun as that found at Earth.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) manages the Juno mission for principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. The mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA´s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Juno was built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Image Caption: This image of Earth (on the left) and the moon (on the right) was taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft on Aug. 26, 2011, when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away. It was taken by the spacecraft's onboard camera, JunoCam. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
On the Net:
- You can find more information about Juno at http://www.nasa.gov/juno and http://missionjuno.swri.edu/.