NASA successfully sent the $1.1 billion Juno spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to begin its five-year trip to the planet Jupiter. The launch was originally slated for 11:34 a.m., but a hydrogen leak and a boat that encroached on the safety zone pushed the launch nearly an hour at 12:25 p.m.
NASA launch director Omar Baez said, “The flight so far looks fantastic.”
“The spacecraft did separate. It’s in the right orbit…to start its journey to Jupiter.”
Juno now heads to the largest planet in our solar system. It will arrive in five years to study how the planet formed, its gravitational and magnetic fields and its complicated atmosphere.
Juno is a mission of discovery and exploration that will conduct an in-depth study of Jupiter, the most massive planet in our solar system. Peering through the clouds deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere, the mission will reveal fundamental processes of the formation and early evolution of our solar system. Juno’s goal is to understand the origin and evolution of the gas giant planet, which will pave the way to a better understanding of our solar system and other planetary systems being discovered around other stars.
Using a spinning, solar-powered spacecraft, Juno will make maps of the gravity, magnetic fields, and atmospheric composition of Jupiter from a unique polar orbit. Juno will carry precise high-sensitivity radiometers, magnetometers, and gravity science systems . During its one-year mission, Juno will complete 33 eleven-day-long orbits and will sample Jupiter's full range of latitudes and longitudes. From its polar perspective, Juno combines in situ and remote sensing observations to explore the polar magnetosphere and determine what drives Jupiter’s remarkable auroras.
A variety of vehicles, launch sites on both U.S. coasts, shifting dates and times... the NASA Launch Schedule is easy to decipher by checking out our Launch Schedule 101 that explains how it all works!
Juno launched Aug. 5, 2011 at 12:25 p.m. EDT.
Legend: + Targeted For | * No Earlier Than (Tentative) | ** To Be Determined