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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More on the upcoming Juno mission to Jupiter

From PopSci's Big Science: "The Universe's Ten Most Epic Projects"


Just before Juno enters Jupiter’s orbit in 2016, the spacecraft, pulled by the gas giant’s tremendous gravity, will reach speeds of 134,000 miles an hour, making it one of the fastest human-made objects ever built. Once in orbit, the craft will make 33 passes around the planet and then dive directly into it. On its suicide run, it will plow through Jupiter’s hydrogen atmosphere until it burns up like a meteor.

Scientific Utility

While Juno circles Jupiter, a suite of nine instruments will study the planet’s many layers. Jupiter was the first planet in the solar system to form, and because it is so large, its gravity has retained original material found in the early solar system, primarily hydrogen and helium. This characteristic makes the planet a valuable window into the solar system’s origins. Measurements of Jupiter’s magnetic field could finally resolve the debate over whether the planet has a rocky core. Juno’s magnetometers will characterize the depth and motions of the metallic hydrogen ocean found in the interior, which generates the strongest magnetic field in our solar system aside from that found around the sun. Finally, a microwave radiometer will measure the amount of water in Jupiter’s deep atmosphere, a key to understanding how the planet was originally formed.