I want to extend our congratulations to NASA and JPL for the successful orbiting of the Juno probe around Jupiter on our Nation’s Birthday, July 4th. Many of us older folk remember that the Viking 1 lander, nearing its 40th anniversary, was planned to land on July 4th, 1976, but was delayed due to dust storms to July 20th – an equally momentous date in Space history!
Juno is a remarkable machine with an assignment in one of the harshest possible environments in the solar system: an orbit close to Jupiter’s massive radiation and magnetic fields.
Juno will now begin its mission of examining the structure of the ‘gas giant’, whose internal dynamics remain poorly understood. Hopefully this will also give design insight to support the upcoming Europa orbiter / lander mission, currently in its planning stage, and second only to a Mars sample return in terms of NASA priority.
Juno is also the deepest space probe to use solar, rather, nuclear power, a testimony to the increasing efficiency of solar power panels, itself a remarkable achievement with many potential benefits to life here on Earth.