SCIENCE

After 5-Year Trek, NASA Spacecraft Juno Prepares For Dangerous Final Stretch To Jupiter

Teased in a new Hollywood-style trailer, Juno is scheduled to enter Jupiter's orbit on July 4.

Hollywood, eat your heart out: It seems the blockbuster of the summer may belong to NASA.

In a dramatic, film trailer-esque video released this week, the space agency detailed its nail-biting final approach to exploring Jupiter. 

NASA’s JUpiter Near-polar Orbiter (Juno) is scheduled to enter the gas giant's orbit on July 4. It will be the first time a spacecraft has come so close to the “biggest and baddest planet in the solar system,” NASA said.

In the video, images of Jupiter flash across the screen as ominous music and dramatic utterances are heard in the background.

“It’s a monster. It’s unforgiving. It’s relentless,” said a voice-over of the fifth planet from the sun.

If all goes well, Juno will study Jupiter’s thick atmosphere and map its gravity field, among other aims. NASA hopes the mission will also offer insights into the origin and evolution of the planet, as well as the solar system as a whole. 

The spacecraft will be exposed to many hazards, including extreme radiation, but the agency said it’s “ready” to deal with these challenges.

"Over the life of the mission, Juno will be exposed to the equivalent of over 100 million dental X-rays," Rick Nybakken, Juno's project manager, said in a statement. "But, we are ready. We designed an orbit around Jupiter that minimizes exposure to Jupiter’s harsh radiation environment. This orbit allows us to survive long enough to obtain the tantalizing science data that we have traveled so far to get.”

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