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Aug 07, 2016 12:28 AM EDT

Latest Updates on Jupiter Exploration: First Up-Close Look at the Mighty Giant Planet

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It was August 5, 2011 when NASA's Juno mission was launched. Last July 4, 2016, the latest spacecraft was seen maneuvering around the orbit of the mighty giant planet. Recently, Juno was seen heading towards to Jupiter for the first time since its launching.

Juno is a $1.1 billion mission sent to Jupiter to track magnetic and gravitational fields of the planet as well as the planet's interior structure and composition. Juno project manager Rick Nybakken of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said in a statement, "We're in an excellent state of health, with the spacecraft and all the instruments fully checked out and ready for our first up-close look at Jupiter." One of the main goals of Juno is to contribute information on the planet's evolution and it should be able to shed some light on the formation of the solar system.

Juno is set to finish its first lap around Jupiter on August 27 and that is the closest mission's pass over the mighty giant planet since its arrival with 2,600 miles or 4,200 kilometers above the clouds. During this entire encounter, Juno's instruments were temporarily turned off due to the critical level of the said maneuver.

The principal investigator of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio Scott Bolton said in a statement, "For five years, we've been focused on getting to Jupiter. Now we're there and we're concentrating on beginning dozens of flybys of Jupiter to get the science we're after."

Juno is expected to loop around the gas giant planet for 30 times. The mission is slated to end in February 2018 through an intentional death crashed into the thick atmosphere of Jupiter. In 2022, Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer is scheduled to launch and expected to arrive at Jupiter in 2030 to probe the planet's three moons Europa, Calliso and Ganymede. 

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