Four gifs which show just how astonishing NASA's successful Juno mission is

Jess Staufenberg
Tuesday 05 July 2016 14:40
Picture: NASA/ESA

Guess what? A plucky little spacecraft called Juno has made it through deadly radiation belts and cosmic dust to arrive at Jupiter.

It is the first ever ship to do so!

The NASA creation launched five years ago and spent a while orbiting around the Sun with the Earth.

Then it was programmed to veer off our orbit and made ever-wider loops outwards, closer and closer to the biggest planet in our Solar System.

Picture: Daisy Chung, National Geographic

And on July 4th, Juno arrived at Jupiter and is now going around and around the planet to find out what goes on underneath those red-and-orange bands.

To do so, it had to wear a 400-pound titanium shield, turn off its star tracker in case it got damaged, and quickly recharge its batteries from the Sun afterwards.

Juno seems quite cool.

These gifs show how phenomenally tricky this journey has been - and will be (wait until you hear how it ends).

Picture: Daisy Chung, National Geographic

So that's Juno making it over to Jupiter.

And this is how it dipped into some of the most dangerous radiation belts out there and began its orbit.

Picture: Daisy Chung, National Geographic

So now Juno will start to go around and around the spinning planet, with one end of the orbit right by Jupiter's surface, and the other far, far away.

This is to protect it from the worst of the radiation rays (go Juno!).

Picture: Daisy Chung, National Geographic

But the end of this story is one of ultimate heroism.

At the close of the mission, having faithfully sent all information back home to Earth, Juno will dive into Jupiter and self-destruct.

This is apparently so as not to upset any of the nearby moons (their gravitational pulls, not interpersonal galactic relations or anything like that).

And that is the mission to Jupiter! Pretty amazing. Best of luck, Juno.

All graphics: Nasa/Creative Commons

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