TECH

Nasa's Juno Spacecraft Is Halfway To Jupiter (But It's Headed Back Towards Earth)

13/08/2013 10:26 BST

Nasa's Juno spacecraft is halfway to Jupiter - but is headed back towards Earth.

The Jovian-system-bound satellite will slingshot around our planet in October as it looks for a bit more speed to get it to the biggest planet in our solar system.

Juno has so far travelled a fairly substantial 879,733,760 miles and has the same distance to go.

juno

An AU is a form of measurement equivalent to the distance from the Earth to the Sun (92,955,807.273 miles)

The mission's Project Manager Rick Nybakken of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said: "On Oct. 9, Juno will come within 347 miles (559 kilometres) of Earth.

"The Earth flyby will give Juno a kick in the pants, boosting its velocity by 16,330 mph (about 7.3 kilometres per second).

"From there, it's next stop Jupiter."

Juno has been hurtling through space since August of 2011 and cost £700 million.

When it reaches Jupiter it will orbit the planet 33 times from pole too pole and gaze beneath the gas giant's obscuring cloud cover to see what lurks beneath.

The mission will greatly enhance our understanding of the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and could even look for a potential solid planetary core.

Juno's name comes from Greek and Roman mythology. The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife, the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature.