The NASA Juno mission to Jupiter
Dr Jonathan Nichols | Department of Physics and Astronomy | University of Leicester | UK
From Galileo’s revolutionary observations of its system of satellites to hypotheses regarding its role in delivering water to the young Earth, Jupiter has played a distinguished role in furthering our understanding of our place in the cosmos. However, many mysteries remain about the king planet, such as the nature of its interior structure, the abundance of water in its atmosphere, and the behaviour of its mighty magnetic field. With these in mind, in 2016 Jupiter gained an artificial companion charged with answering some of these questions: the NASA Juno spacecraft, successfully placed into a polar orbit on 5 July. As well as taking the first pictures from over the poles of Jupiter, Juno is a mapping mission that will reveal the nature of the planet’s gravity and magnetic fields in great detail, will peer beneath the clouds to find Jupiter’s water, and will fly right over the brightest and most powerful auroras in the solar system to reveal how Jupiter interacts with its space environment. Juno has at present successfully executed three close-approaches with its science instruments on, and is returning spectacular and surprising data about Jupiter. In this talk, we will discuss the Juno mission and its first science results, along with some results from an Earth-based collaborative observing campaign.