Juno Mission Launches to Jupiter


It’s no Shuttle but it’s NASA:

Three LEGO figurines representing the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno and Galileo Galilei are shown here aboard the Juno spacecraft.

In Greek and Roman mythology, Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief. From Mount Olympus, Juno was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter’s true nature. Juno holds a magnifying glass to signify her search for the truth, while her husband holds a lightning bolt.

The third LEGO crew member is Galileo Galilei, who made several important discoveries about Jupiter, including the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honor). Of course, the miniature Galileo has his telescope with him on the journey.

The Juno spacecraft will soon be on its way to Jupiter on a mission to look deep beneath the planet’s swirling curtain of clouds to find out what lies beneath. The answer might confirm theories about how the solar system formed, or it may change everything we thought we knew.

“The special thing about Juno is we’re really looking at one of the first steps, the earliest time in our solar system’s history,” said Scott Bolton, the principal investigator for the Juno mission. “Right after the sun formed, what happened that allowed the planets to form and why are the planets a slightly different composition than the sun?”

After arriving at Jupiter in August 2016, the spacecraft will spend about a year surveying Jupiter and its moons to draw a detailed picture of its magnetic field and find out whether there is a solid core beneath its multi-colored clouds.

The research is building on what previous missions found about Jupiter, particularly the data Galileo gathered during a mission that ended in 2003. It may even provide clues about what to look for in planets outside the solar system.

Among his many achievements, Galileo Galilei discovered that moons orbited Jupiter in 1610. These satellites — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto — are also known as the Galilean moons.

The plaque, which was provided by the Italian Space Agency, measures 2.8 by 2 inches (71 by 51 millimeters), is made of flight-grade aluminum and weighs six grams (0.2 ounces). It was bonded to Juno’s propulsion bay with a spacecraft-grade epoxy. The graphic on the plaque depicts a self-portrait of Galileo. It also includes — in Galileo’s own hand — a passage he made in 1610 of observations of Jupiter, archived in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence.

Galileo’s text included on the plaque reads as follows: “On the 11th it was in this formation — and the star closest to Jupiter was half the size than the other and very close to the other so that during the previous nights all of the three observed stars looked of the same dimension and among them equally afar; so that it is evident that around Jupiter there are three moving stars invisible till this time to everyone.”

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