NASA's Juno spacecraft completes Jupiter rendezvous burn
NASA's Juno spacecrafthas successfully completed a maneuver designed to fine tune its orbitaround the Sun, preparing it for a rendezvous with Jupiter in justover five months' time. The probe will be required to undertake onefurther burn on May 31 in order to complete the fine-tuning of itstrajectory.
Launched on Aug. 5, 2011, Juno represents NASA's next great effort to unravel themysteries shrouding the solar system's most massive planet. Over thecourse of its mission Juno will orbit the gas giant 33 times, dippingperiodically to an altitude of only 3,100 miles (5,000 km) above the planet's chaotic cloud surface.
During the recentmaneuver, Juno's thruster expended 1.3 pounds (0.6 kg) of fuel inorder to alter its speed by 1 ft (0.31 m) per second. The proberelies on a Leros-1b main engine and three solar panels in order tomaintain power and control over its trajectory.
The probe has beendesigned to dive beneath Jupiter's tumultuous shroud in order toobserve the planet's powerful aurora, and in so doing provideastronomers with answers regarding the gas giant's structure, formation,atmosphere and magnetosphere.