On July 4, NASA along with the Juno team, will be able to watch the Juno spacecraft enter Jupiter’s orbit, in order to extract data from the planet that could reveal great secrets about our own home planet.

The Juno mission has been highly awaited by NASA and the science world. So far, it has been impossible to study Jupiter’s structure so close. The planet’s magnetic fields make everything that surrounds it a weapon, including meteors, dust and whatever is passing by.

Juno Spacecraft
On June 28, NASA’s Juno spacecraft obtained this color view of Jupiter from a distance of 3.9 million miles. Credit: NASA

For almost five years, NASA has awaited the arrival of the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, to understand its atmosphere more closely, its structure and determine the gas giant’s origins. On July 4, scientists will discover if the probe was worth the wait.

It turns out Jupiter’s magnetosphere is not influenced by solar winds, but by the planet’s own magnetic field that is almost 20 thousand times more powerful than Earth’s. The main objective of the probe is to get near the planet’s atmosphere, extract data and retrieve the spacecraft.

On June 24, NASA determined the spacecraft had already entered and passed Juno’s “bow shock.” This being the sound made by the planet’s magnetosphere when solar winds passed through it, NASA released the audio of the bow shock in it’s Youtube channel.

A dangerous mission

For years, scientists have aimed to study Jupiter up close, but its extreme magnetosphere has made it almost impossible for that to happened. In August 2011, NASA launched the Juno spacecraft designed especially for this matter.

The planet’s magnetosphere is considered by scientists the largest structure in the solar system and one of the most dangerous. The Juno spacecraft managed to pass through Jupiter’s “bow shock” before getting closer to the planet.

“We’ve just crossed the boundary into Jupiter’s home turf. We’re closing in fast on the planet itself and already gaining valuable data,” said Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator in a statement.

Even though the spacecraft passed a tough part of the planet’s magnetosphere, the density around Jupiter is expected to climb again with 16 particles per cubic inch. With these particles surrounding the planet, the spacecraft will be able to collect valuable data from Jupiter.

According to radiation specialists at NASA, these particles are able to destroy anything that comes near them, yet the spacecraft has been protected by a 400 pounds of titanium made armor especially for this encounters.

Researchers are hoping to celebrate along with the U.S. Independence Day, a discovery that could lead future investigations to find secrets about this gas-giant, its origins and explain several things about our own planet.

Source: NASA