Look up And Wonder
15th Jul. 2011 :: Hail to the King ~ Juno, Jupiter and origins of the Solar System

Next month NASA's new Jupiter mission will launch on it's 6 year cruise and 1 year orbital mission to the gas giant and undoubted King of the Solar System, Jupiter. Jupiter, apart from some basic information remains a bit of a mystery. At 143,000Km in diameter it could swallow 1300 Earths and it contains two and a half times as much mass as all the other planets in the Solar System combined.

Image :: NASA/ JPL

I love Jupiter, it's a great planet to observe and photograph, it often looks majestic just hanging there, as if by magic in the blackness surrounded by it's obedient and loyal moons.

Jupiter is returning to our night skies in the northern hemisphere at the moment and by early August it will be rising 4 or 5 hours before sunrise, providing some good observing for a few hours before the sky starts to brighten. It will reach opposition during the dark winter nights on Saturday October 29th 2011 at 01:29:24 GMT. I plan to spend some time observing and photographing it, as this should be a great time to view Jupiter.

Juno is the next in NASA's New Frontiers program that has already sent New Horizons out towards Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. The mission has a $700 million budget and a number of clever cost saving measures have been employed.

The Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 after it's launch (currently planned for the 5th August 2011) to study Jupiter from a highly elliptical, polar orbit. Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming within 5,000km from the cloud tops at closest approaches at the poles, swinging much further out at the equator.

The close approaches should return some spectacular photographs, although there is some doubt as to just how long the sensitive electronics of the camera will last in that radiation environment. The cameras are fixed to the body of the spacecraft and will only point towards Jupiter when the slow rotation of the spacecraft allows it - this is one of the cost saving measures employed.

Juno's primary goal is to improve our understanding of Jupiter's formation and evolution. The spacecraft will spend a year investigating the planet's origins, interior structure, deep atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Juno's study of Jupiter will help us to understand the history of our own solar system and provide new insight into how planetary systems form and develop. It is believed that Jupiter formed as it collected material from the Solar protoplanetary disc during and continuing after the formation of our Sun, so new insights into it's composition will vastly improve our understanding of this timeline.

Fundamental questions that Juno will address are:
  1. Does Jupiter have a solid core?
  2. If so how big is it?
  3. Did this core form first and then a the thick dense atmosphere?
  4. Did the huge ball of gas form first and simply grew so large that gas in it's centre solidified under the pressure?
  5. Why do it's equatorial belts rotate in opposite directions?
  6. What is driving the Big Red Spot?
  7. How much water doesn Jupiter contain?
  8. Why do we see so many Jupiter sized exoplanets much closer to their parent stars than Jupiter itself?
To receive the answers to some of these questions will be amazing.

Good luck Juno!

Jupiter and it's geologically vastly different Galilean satellites :: IO, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto

Turn your scopes to Jupiter in the coming months!

Comments (0)

No comments yet :(

  • Allowed markup: <a> <i> <b> <em> <u> <s> <strong> <code> <pre> <p>
  • All other tags will be stripped, unless they are in a <pre> (use this for blocks of code)
  • External links will have the rel="nofollow" attribute applied
Astronomy Tools and Information

Solar System Planets
Messier Objects
New General Catalogue (NGC) Objects

Most Recent Posts

Epic Ceres Flyover
James Webb Space Telescope has a Dozen Mirrors
Europe planning for humans on the moon by 2030
Solar System 360 Degree Tour
Long Overdue - NASA receives a Budget Boost from Congress
New Horizons Finally Arrives at Pluto
Next Steps to the Moon
One Million SETI Credits
The Transit of Venus June 2012
Solar System Planets
Mars and Venus
The Amazing Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
New Rosette Attempt
Short Timelapse Sunset
New Attempt at Processing NGC2246 with PixInsight
A Cold Night
Another Attempt at M1 and NGC2246
Busy Timelapse Skies
Reprocessed Andromeda Galaxy
Its a Steep Learning Curve ~ M1 and NGC2246
Current Exoplanet Count
Known Planets Multi Planet Systems Candidate Planets
1,930 481 4,696

Currently Popular Astronomy Links

$5 Orion starblaster reflector
Dec 10th: Your Space Rock & 16 NEOs
The most prolific and reliable meteor showers of the year, Geminid is almost here
Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82)
Dec 9th: Education and Public Outreach at CTIO in Chile
An exoplanet-hunting space telescope turns and takes a photo of Earth
Kepler discovers a wobbly planet with weird seasons | EarthSky.org
Unseen Terrains On Mercury -: Maps of magnesium to silicon ratios (left) and thermal neutron absorption (right) captured by NASA's MESSENGER mission help identify previously unseen terrains on the planet Mercury.
Dec 8th: Brian Koberlein and “Big Science”
Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884)
Great timeline about women in aerospace created by user of TimeGraphics
Let me know if you guys like this! All done in photoshop.
Here's What It Looks Like When You Fry Your Eye In An Eclipse
New Jersey is now home to the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.
This interactive 3-D map is the most detailed galactic map every produced and traces the movement of 1,400 nearby galaxies within 100 million light-years of Earth over the course of the past 13.25 billion years.
Year’s most prolific meteor shower peaks next week
Dec 7th: Please Don’t Pick a Goofy Name
These are real images of a star going supernova
A photo showing the cosmic microwave background (the afterglow of the Big Bang) was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize.
Most Distant Black Hole Yet
The Most-Distant Supermassive Black Hole Ever Found

Get relevant, popular links for your website from Here's A Link
Older Posts

Sky Trails
Another Attempt at Andromeda (M31)
The ExoPlanet Count is Likely to Reach Trillions
Tycho Crater
Moon Mosaic
The Andromeda Galaxy (M31)
The Pleiades (M45)
The Nebulas in Orion
Hints ot the Higgs
Earth HiRes Animation from Nasa
The World Would Be A Better Place If Everyone Watched This Video At Least Once!
Carl Sagan
The Journey Home. More stunning HD Footage from Nasa...
Amazing High Def Video of Jupiter
Sun Mosaic
November Sun
Full Funding Secured for James Webb Space Telescope!
Photographing Jupiter
Save The James Webb Space Telescope Petition
The Nature of Reality ~ Do We Live in Eight Dimensional Phase Space
Juno Launch Update
More Water Evidence Adds to Intrigue Surrounding Mars
Hubble Continues to Amaze with new Pluto Moon Discovery
Is the James Webb Space Telescope Worth It
JWST Program Status July 2011
Dawn Enters Vesta Orbit
Hail to the King ~ Juno, Jupiter and origins of the Solar System
Free NASA Android App
Happy Birthday Neptune
M51 Supernova SN2011dh
M51 And UFOs
NASA Human Space Flight Strategy
Last Flight of the Space Shuttle
Proposed Cancellation of JWST
A Universe Not Made For Us
The Moon
M31 The Andromeda Galaxy
Total Solar Eclipse, Hao Atoll, South Pacific
M42 The Great Nebula in Orion
Jupiter (IO, Ganymede, Europa, Callisto)
M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy
M13 The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules
Sir Patrick Moore
About Me

I am an amateur astronomer; I am interested in science, innovation, astronomy and general musing about philosophies of life, the universe and our place in it.

I love to look up and wonder, and this blog is mostly what results from that wondering.

I also enjoy Paragliding.

All images are copyrighted and owned by me, except where stated, please do not copy or use them unless with permission.

Please feel free to contact me for any reason, the best method is to use this contact form.