NASA’s Jupiter probe, Juno, has entered orbit around the gas giant after a 35 minute burn to decelerate the craft, which was headed toward Jupiter at 135,000 MPH.
The burn was make-it-or-break-it. Had it not gone according to plan, the craft might’ve flown right past the planet. Now, it will work from a 53 day orbit into a 14 day orbit, making 37 passes over 20 months in an effort to understand the interior of the largest planet in our solar system.
In that time, the craft will repeatedly put itself on the line in Jupiter’s intense radiation. Some instruments, including the Juno cam, may not make the entire journey. In the end, though, we may be able to tell if Jupiter formed closer to the sun (like so called “Hot Jupiters”) and migrated out or formed closer to its present location.
Stay tuned — the next two years are going to open new chapters into our understanding of how the solar system we see today came to be. It’s an exciting time.