NASA launches satellite mission to Jupiter
The Juno spacecraft will reach Jupiter in 2016.
August 5th, 2011
12:33 PM ET

NASA launches satellite mission to Jupiter

The Mission Juno satellite launched into clear blue skies Friday, beginning a five-year journey to the largest planet in our solar system - Jupiter.

NASA launched the $1.1 billion satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 12:25 p.m., after almost a decade of building and testing the spacecraft.

A minute technical issue and a boat inside the launch safety zone delayed lift off through several holding periods. The satellite was originally scheduled to launch at 11:34 a.m.

Mission Juno will offer an unprecedented look beneath the clouds of Jupiter and offer insight into how the solar system was formed, NASA said.

Juno was launched atop an Atlas V 551 rocket, one of the world's most powerful, NASA said. The rocket can reach a top speed of 4,500 mph and is expected to reach Earth's orbit in about 10 minutes.

After parking in orbit, a second booster will fire, sending the rocket on it's way to Jupiter, the site said.

Once Juno separates from the rocket, its three solar arrays - each the size of a tractor trailer - will unfold and face the sun. The energy the panels absorb from the sun will power the rocket throughout the mission, the site said.

After circling the inner ring of the solar system for two years, the craft will use the Earth's gravitational pull to sling itself toward the gaseous planet. By 2016, Juno will have traveled the 400 million miles to reach Jupiter, according to the mission's website.

Jupiter is key to understanding the solar system because it's believed to be the first planet to exist after the formation of the sun, said Scott Bolton, principal investigator for the mission, told reporters last week.

"It got the majority of the leftovers after the sun formed," Bolton said. "We want the ingredient list."

He added that the mission will investigate, among other things, what lies in Jupiter's core. Jupiter is nearly 1,300 times larger than Earth.

The spacecraft will be the first solar-powered satellite to journey as far as Jupiter, Bolton said. Other NASA missions to Jupiter, like Galileo, have used nuclear fuel.

The craft will periodically communicate with NASA engineers on Earth and is programmed to respond to glitches and unexpected trouble, NASA said.

NASA officials said Mission Juno will build upon knowledge gained from the eight previous missions to Jupiter.

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Filed under: Jupiter • Solar System • Space
soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. michaelfury

    August 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • OutOfContext

      LOL - so someone who background is "Microbial Evolution and Organelle Heredity" is speaking on subject outside her field and getting it wrong. Thanks for the laugh.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ms. Banasy

    Michael, I will never read your blatherings now, just because your irritation factor is so high.

    Getting back to the story, this is just plain cool!

    August 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cosmos42

    Excellent! Finally, some real news!

    August 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. senses

    Ms banasy use your own name, jerk. Or use your stupid mothers name.

    August 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pete

    It will actually be able to transmit back to Earth from within Jupiter?

    August 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • rc roeder

      Yes it will, it is not using AT&T.. It is using T-Mobile...wait T-Mobile will be AT&T by then the mission is Doomed....

      August 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Do you really think NASA sent a 1.1 Billion dollar satellite into space in hopes that Jupiter would/could appreciate a worthless piece of Earth technology orbiting it without a purpose... Of course it can and will report back on what it's doing...

      August 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pioneer 44

    Go Baby Go! That's going to be so cool when it gets there and starts sending back pictures and information.

    August 5, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jimmy Crack Corn

    Im glad our taxes aren't a total waste. I would rather send 500 sats at 1 billion dollars each to every planet we've discovered than spend 500 billion on the country of Afgan or Iraq... Surely we'll learn more from space than these two counties alone.

    August 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Trevin Matlock

    Very cool though the writer got a key detail wrong. The solar panels don't power the rocket they power the probe itself. I suppose they also power the CONTROLS to the rocket but this was sloppy science writing.

    August 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      I picked up on that as well...

      August 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Otto

      This dunce got plenty wrong. The Atlas 5 goes much faster than 4500 mph (but even trying to express the launch capability of this vehicle in terms of MPH is silly). Also, the report implied that after 2 years of traveling through the inner solar system Juno will have travelled 400 million miles when it reached Jupiter. In fact, when jupiter is closest to earth, it is about 400 million miles away. Juno will have travelled many times further than that by the time it arrives in Jupiters orbit.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |

    Finally. Real News. And for those who say we shouldn't be spending this kind of money, you are dead wrong. A majority of the technologies we use today were developed by NASA, which spurred the tech boom and allow you to be on your computer right now. We need to innovate, explore, and fund science. If we retreat, cut funding, cut education and cut innovation, we are doomed. China is pumping BILLIONS into this.

    August 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick


      August 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Robert

    5 years waiting for information. Wow. If Obama is still in power we won't have any systems left to receive the infomation
    having spent every last dime on Obamacare, food stamps and unemployment. Maybe the Chinese wll let us konw what was sent back as a favor to Walmart.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ryan

      And our republicans would have cured aids, discovered a way to feed the entire world, and stop domestic violence. Just stop it.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. anew beginning.

    Its about time money is spent on anything besides disease,pestilence or war to namest afew but to mean the most.Hurray for humanity progress-wise.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. daftshadow

    I'm all in for space exploration but spending $1.1 billion on a spacecraft... while our current economy is on the decline going down the toilet.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      A $1.1 billion satellite from after almost a decade of building and testing the spacecraft is actually quite impressively cheap considering how quick the government spends money daily... how do you think we got to this deficite?

      So 1.1 billion / 10 years = $110,000,000 a year on a satellite that's going to show us what Jupiter looks like without coulds... how awesome is that?

      August 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • pennypincher-not!

      You're right! Let's spend hundreds of billions of dollars, or more, one a war machine that is accomplishing nothing more than thinning out the youth of our country. I do not take their service to our country lightly by any means; I am grateful for and humbled by their sacrifice. It just seems that the children in power in DC could start reining the spending on that a bit. Seeking knowledge does nothing but advance the human condition. It's what we do with that knowledge that determines who and what we really are.
      BTW- I am neither a Demobrat (sic) or Rebuklican (sic), just someone who thinks partisan thinking needs to stop and common sense thinking used instead.

      August 5, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Don

    The money used on this latest mission could be used toward the now factor, we really need to focus on a replacement for the retired shuttles, this mission while nice, could be postponed to a later date. With minimum cash availability, Mankind needs to do the step-by-step no none sense approach of first, take control of the Orbit thing, Next the Moon, Mars. Let generation after this one, decide how they'll spend their time and money.........D

    August 5, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. anew beginning.

    Its about time something was shot into space without military applications. Ithink that everybody that shares this planet should learn to trust one another without the paranoia that comes with ulterier motives.

    August 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark in Phx

    Wow! It is good to get a reminder we can really build things! But five years to wait. Guess we can go read what Voyager 1 and 2 showed us while we wait. And imagine what Juno will add to that!

    August 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
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