JAN 16, 2016 10:30 AM PST

NASA's Juno Spacecraft Breaks Record for Distance on Solar Power

NASA broke a record this week when its Juno spacecraft, launched in 2011 to get itself into orbit around Jupiter and study the planet and its surroundings, traveled the longest distance of any spacecraft powered solely by solar power.
 

Juno broke a record for manmade spacecraft traveling on just solar power.


This Wednesday at 11 A.M. PST, NASA announced Juno was 493 million miles away from the Sun, breaking the standing record of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft at 492 million miles away from the Sun where it was keeping in touch with Philae on comet 67P.
 
"Juno is all about pushing the edge of technology to help us learn about our origins," said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "We use every known technique to see through Jupiter's clouds and reveal the secrets Jupiter holds of our solar system’s early history.  It just seems right that the sun is helping us learn about the origin of Jupiter and the other planets that orbit it."
 
Because the distance of Jupiter from the Sun is around five times greater than the distance of the Earth from the Sun, there is significantly less sunlight out there for the spacecraft to operate off of. In fact, NASA says there is 25% less sunlight out there to make use of.
 
To help with this problem, Juno has massive solar panels designed to absorb absolutely as much sunlight as possible. These panels are approximately 30 feet long and have well over 18,000 solar cells built into them.
 
The spacecraft is also well-designed to be power efficient, so when it eventually arrives at its destination in 2016, the 500 watts that it’ll be generating will be more than enough to power the spacecraft’s sensors and equipment.
 
"It is cool we got the record and that our dedicated team of engineers and scientists can chalk up another first in space exploration," said Bolton. "But the best is yet to come. We are achieving these records and venturing so far out for a reason -- to better understand the biggest world in our solar system and thereby better understand where we came from."
 


The spacecraft will dive into Jupiter’s clouds after 33 orbits when it arrives on Independence Day of 2016, allowing its sensors to capture data about the planet’s atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
Here's What the ESA's Rosetta-Philae Mission Taught Us About Comet 67P
Comet 67P has captivated the attention of astronomers for a very long time, and so it should come as no surprise to anyone that the European Space Agency (...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
The Science Behind Designing Spacecraft for Other Worlds
When spaceflight engineers design highly specialized spacecraft for interplanetary missions, they’re doing some rather extraordinary things. The whol...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
The Science Behind Nuclear Fission-Powered Space Engines
The cold and unforgiving environment in outer space presents a lot of challenges, with one of those being power generation. Solar arrays can be capable eno...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
James Webb Space Telescope Will Help Astronomers Study the TRAPPIST-1 System
Just over two years ago, astronomers learned that the TRAPPIST-1 system played host to at least seven terrestrial Earth-like exoplanets. If that wasn&rsquo...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
When Can We Expect Another Nearby Supernova?
Once most stars reach the end of their life cycle, they’ll explode with a gleaming white-hot intensity, an event that’s often referred to by as...
OCT 14, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 14, 2019
8 More to the List: What Does the Growing Number of Repeating Fast Radio Bursts Mean to Astrophysicists
The story of Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) started back in 2007, when Australian astronomer Duncan Lorimer and his student discovered a set of puzzling data reco...
Loading Comments...