Monday, 7 October 2013

Juno Spacecraft to flyby the Earth on Wednesday 9 October 2013.

NASA's Juno Spacecraft will flyby the Earth on Wednesday 9 October 2013, gaining a gravitational boost from the encounter which will accelerate it on its way towards its eventual destination in a polar orbit around Jupiter. The probe will be at its closest at about 7.20 pm GMT, when it will be approximately 559 km above a point in the South Atlantic roughly 200 km off the South African coastline, and potentially visible to amateur astronomers in Cape Province.

The path of the Juno Spacecraft past the Earth on 9 October 2013. Heavens Above.

Juno was launched on 5 August 2011, and should reach Jupiter on 4 July 2016. It is following a somewhat complex path to the giant planet, which involves passing outside the orbit of Mars before falling back inwards in order to gain more thrust from a slingshot maneuver past the Earth, using the Earth's gravity to propel itself out to Jupiter at greater speed than could be imparted by the thrusters used to launch it. Once in orbit around Jupiter it will complete 33 orbits around the Planet, before crashing into the atmosphere in October 2017. Juno is designed to study the composition of the Jovian atmosphere.

The path of Juno from Earth to Jupiter. NASA/JPL/Wikimedia Commons.

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