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Juno Enters Orbit Around Jupiter

Early this morning (GMT), Juno successfully entered orbit around Jupiter. Don’t expect too much too soon, however, since the science collection phase officially starts in October, the time between now and then being dedicated to testing and calibrating the spacecraft and its systems. However, the team has stated that they have figured out ways to collect some data during this time as well, so there should be a few interesting things coming our way. Just be patient and keep expectations in check.
This means that, close to 13 years after Galileo was crashed into the planet at the end of its mission, we once again have something in orbit around Jupiter. And it also means that, for the first time ever, a spacecraft powered by solar panels operates at such a distance. However, Juno won’t stay there long, the mission being scheduled to end in early 2018, by which time the spacecraft is expected to already experience problems due to the effects of Jupiter’s radiation, considering the planned orbits. And, with Cassini ending its mission in September, 2017, and New Horizons already beyond, that means humanity will be left with nothing active in the outer solar system after that point.
There is, of course, one, and only one, mission clearly set to launch beyond Mars in the future, and that’s JUICE, but that will only launch in 2022 and is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in 2030. That means it may be beaten there by NASA‘s planned mission to Europa, but there are still details to work on when it comes to that and the launch date is only listed as being at some point in the 2020s. Still, the chance to arrive before JUICE is real if it’ll end up using the Space Launch System, which will greatly reduce the time needed to reach Jupiter and allow it to get there first even if it’ll launch quite a few years later.


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