NASA's Juno Probe Is One Week Away From Historic Jupiter Mission

After a five-year journey to Jupiter, Juno probe will begin its science mission.

ByAlyssa Newcomb
June 28, 2016, 10:18 AM

— -- We're about to get a closer look at Jupiter than ever before.

After five years and a nearly 2 billion mile journey through the solar system, NASA's Juno probe is set to enter Jupiter's orbit on July 4 to get an unprecedented front-row view of the gas giant -- our solar system's largest planet.

The four-ton Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, and is equipped with three 30-foot-long solar arrays, along with 18,696 individual solar cells, to help it make the most of the solar power it receives on its journey.

Juno has some serious work ahead of it. When the probe reaches Jupiter, it will conduct a 35-minute burn of its main engine, essentially hitting the brakes and slowing Juno by about 1,200 mph so it can enter Jupiter's polar orbit.

Once it inserts itself into Jupiter's orbit, Juno will orbit the planet a total of 37 times over the course of 20 months. During that time, Juno is set to come as close as 3,100 miles above Jupiter's cloud tops, getting our closest look ever at the planet.

The Juno probe actually gets its name from Juno, the Roman goddess and wife of Jupiter who was able to see through clouds.

NASA officials said they hope the mission will help scientists learn more about Jupiter's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

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