Saturday, August 27, 2011

Juno spacecraft Jupiter arrival animation

NASA's Juno spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the giant planet Jupiter in July 2016 following a five-year trek. As the spacecraft nears the planet it executes a series of maneuvers to prepare for Jupiter orbit insertion. First, the spacecraft opens its main engine cover. Then Juno uses thrusters to re-orient itself so that its main engine points in the direction the spacecraft is moving. Juno's thrusters then fire to increase the spacecraft's rate of spin from 2 rotations per minute to 5 rotations per minute; the faster rate of rotation makes Juno more stable during the engine burn to come.

Juno fires its main engine for about 30 minutes to slow down and allow Jupiter's gravity to capture the speeding spacecraft into orbit. Following the engine burn, Juno decreases its rate of spin and points its giant solar arrays back toward the sun and Earth (which at Jupiter's location appear close together in the sky). At this point the spacecraft will be successfully in orbit around the giant world.

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