Juno probe enters into orbit around Jupiter

The US space agency has successfully put a new probe in orbit around Jupiter.

The Juno satellite, which left Earth five years ago, had to fire a rocket engine to slow its approach to the planet and get caught by its gravity.

A sequence of tones transmitted from the spacecraft confirmed the braking manoeuvre had gone as planned.

Receipt of the radio messages prompted wild cheering at Nasa’s mission control in Pasadena, California.

“All stations on Juno co-ord, we have the tone for burn cut-off on Delta B,” Juno Mission Control had announced. “Roger Juno, welcome to Jupiter.”

Scientists plan to use the spacecraft to sense the planet’s deep interior. They think the structure and the chemistry of its insides hold clues to how this giant world formed some four-and-a-half-billion years ago.

JunoImage copyrightNASA
Image captionArtist’s impression: Juno will fly more than 30 times around Jupiter in the course of its mission

Engineers had warned in advance that the engine firing was fraught with danger.

No previous spacecraft has dared pass so close to Jupiter; its intense radiation belts can destroy unprotected electronics.

One calculation even suggested the orbit insertion would have subjected Juno to a dose equivalent to a million dental X-rays.

But the probe is built like a tank with titanium shielding, and the 35-minute rocket burn appeared to go without a hitch.

While the radiation dangers have not gone away, the probe should now be able to prepare its instruments to start sensing what lies beneath Jupiter’s opaque clouds.

Source: BBC; NASA

Media Invited to View Launch of New Ocean Monitoring Satellite

The launch of Jason-3, an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to continue U.S.- European satellite measurements of the topography of the ocean surface, is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016.

Media are invited to cover prelaunch activities and launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Advance accreditation is required by contacting Tech. Sgt. Tyrona Lawson of the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs Office at 805-606-3595 or tyrona.lawson@us.af.mil, or by fax at 805-606-4571.

Information required for U.S. media is full legal name, date of birth and media affiliation. A legal photo identification will be required upon arrival at Vandenberg. The deadline for U.S. media to apply for accreditation is Jan. 11. The deadline for international media to apply for accreditation has passed.

Liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East is targeted for 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST), at the opening of a 30-second launch window. If needed, a backup launch opportunity is available at 10:41 a.m. PST (1:31 p.m. EST) on Jan. 18.

A Jason-3 prelaunch news conference and science briefing will be held at Vandenberg at 4 p.m. EST on Jan. 15. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website. Media also can ask questions via phone by calling 321-867-2468, or on Twitter by using the hashtag #askNASA.

On Jan. 16, media will have an opportunity to photograph the Falcon 9 and Jason-3 spacecraft at the launch pad. Those wishing to attend the launch pad photo opportunity should confirm their participation with Capt. Selena Rodts of the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595 no later than Jan. 11.

On Jan. 17, NASA TV launch commentary coverage of the countdown will begin at 11 a.m. EST. Coverage will feature updates of countdown milestones and streaming video clips that highlight launch preparations and liftoff. Spacecraft separation from the rocket will occur 55 minutes after launch.

Jason-3 will continue the ability to monitor and precisely measure global sea surface heights, monitor the intensification of tropical cyclones and support seasonal and coastal forecasts. Jason-3 data also will benefit fisheries management, marine industries and research into human impacts on the world’s oceans. The mission is planned to last at least three years, with a goal of five years.

Jason-3 is a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, France’s space agency, and the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Thales Alenia of France built the spacecraft.

NASA TV will live stream launch coverage and prelaunch briefings at:


For prelaunch, countdown and launch day coverage of the liftoff, including the prelaunch webcast of Jason-3 aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, go to:


Source: NASA.gov

Pluto’s Majestic Mountains, Frozen Plains and Foggy Hazes

Pluto's mountains, frozen plains and foggy hazes

Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon. The smooth expanse of the informally named icy plain Sputnik Planum (right) is flanked to the west (left) by rugged mountains up to 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) high, including the informally named Norgay Montes in the foreground and Hillary Montes on the skyline. To the right, east of Sputnik, rougher terrain is cut by apparent glaciers. The backlighting highlights over a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s tenuous but distended atmosphere. The image was taken from a distance of 11,000 miles (18,000 kilometers) to Pluto; the scene is 780 miles (1,250 kilometers) wide.

(Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Source: NASA