JAN 16, 2016 10:30 AM PST

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

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
FEB 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 10, 2020
Learn How NASA Suppresses the Loud Sounds of a Rocket Launch
When a large chemical rocket’s engines ignite, they produce thousands, if not millions, of pounds of thrust. This ...
MAR 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 01, 2020
Astronomers Say it Was the Biggest Explosion Detected Since the Big Bang
When you’re an astronomer, you come to grips with the fact that the job involves a lot of waiting and watching as ...
MAR 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 01, 2020
Utilizing the Moon's Resources for Lunar Missions
Plans for future space exploration are taking shape, and many of those are expected to be crewed. One such example invol ...
MAR 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 08, 2020
2020 Has a Lot of Martian Missions in Store
Space agencies typically send missions to Mars once every several years, depending on the need for scientific exploratio ...
MAR 24, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 24, 2020
How Much Do You Know About the Solar System?
Our solar system is only one out of hundreds of stellar systems residing in the Milky Way galaxy. It’s comprised o ...
MAY 03, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 03, 2020
These Contractors Will Develop Lunar Landers for NASA's Artemis Mission
NASA seems to be moving quickly to get the ball rolling for its lunar-centric initiative dubbed Artemis. The program aim ...
Loading Comments...