‘Welcome to Jupiter!’ NASA’s Juno space probe arrives at giant planet

A model of the Juno spacecraft is seen at a news briefing, held before Juno enters orbit around Jupiter, on Thursday, June 30, 2016 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA. The Juno mission launched August 5, 2011 and will arrive at Jupiter July 4, 2016 to orbit the planet for 20 mont

The Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit on Tuesday at 5:54 am, French time, after a journey of five years and three billion kilometers. The first space mission to operate a solar-powered spacecraft at Jupiter and the farthest solar powered spacecraft from Earth, Juno will seek to determine the planet’s atmospheric composition, particularly whether it contains water. Juno’s research will help us better understand the origins and evolution of the largest planet in the solar system and its impact on the development of life on Earth. The French National Center for Space Studies, CNES, played a key role in the mission, providing electro-optics technology in order to examine Jupiter’s stunning auroras. NASA administrator Charlie Bolden cheered, “Independence Day is always something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer- Juno is at Jupiter.”