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Feb 08, 2016 12:18 PM EST

NASA's Juno Spacecraft Performs Trajectory Maneuver en Route to Jupiter


NASA's Juno spacecraft performed a maneuver Wednesday to keep it on track for an Independence Day arrival at the largest planet in the solar system.

"This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno's orbit around the sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4th at 8:18 p.m. PDT," Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a press release.

Juno fired its thrusters around 10:38 a.m. PDT on Wednesday when it was 51 million miles from Jupiter, and burned a little more than a pound of fuel. NASA is planning Juno's next maneuver for May 31.

Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun and is the largest planet in the solar system with about two-and-a-half times the mass of the other eight planets combined. It has at least 67 moons, one of which is Europa, known to have subsurface oceans.

"Juno was launched on Aug. 5, 2011," NASA stated in its release. "The spacecraft will orbit the Jovian world 33 times, skimming to within 3,100 miles above the planet's cloud tops every 14 days. During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its aurorae to learn more about the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere."

(Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

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