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.
The Juno spacecraft launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. Juno will make a five-year, 400-million-mile voyage to Jupiter, orbit the planet, investigate its origins and evolution with eight instruments to probe its internal structure and gravity field, measure water and ammonia in its atmosphere, map its powerful magnetic field and observe its intense auroras.
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
An Atlas V rocket lofted the Juno spacecraft toward Jupiter from Space Launch Complex-41. The 4-ton Juno spacecraft will take five years to reach Jupiter on a mission to study its structure and decipher its history.
The Juno mission is the next scientific investigation in the NASA New Frontiers Program. The mission's primary science goal is to significantly improve our understanding of the formation and structure of Jupiter. By advancing our knowledge of the giant planet, we will also dramatically advance our understanding of the origins and early evolution of our own solar system at the most fundamental level.
The Juno spacecraft will investigate Jupiter's origins, its interior structure, its deep atmosphere and its magnetosphere from an innovative, highly elliptical orbit with a suite of seven science instruments. In addition, a camera called JunoCam will be used by student participants in the Juno Education and Public Outreach program to take the first images of Jupiter's polar regions.