Most of NASA’s employees have been deemed non-essential by the furlough, but that doesn’t mean that the space agency is sitting around twiddling their thumbs in the meantime. In fact, they’re still going forward with their Juno Mission today, during which they plan to send a spacecraft to Jupiter by swinging it around Earth to build up the necessary momentum.
Clocking it at 8,000 lbs, the Juno Satelitte is on a 5-year mission
to boldly go to Jupiter so that we can study the planet’s atmosphere, gravitational and magnetic fields. It was first launched in August 2011 with the help of the Atlas 5 Rocket, which provided half the boost Juno needs to get to the Jovian planet. This flyby around Earth (and at only 350 miles above the surface, it’s going to be pretty dang close) will provide the other half of the boost, and will accelerate the spacecraft by about 16,330 mph. If all goes according to plan, Juno will be the first solar-powered probe ever to visit the outer solar system.
But if you’re like us (and you know we are! — seeing all this explained to your in text form isn’t going to be enough. You need our friend Bill Nye to explain things. And explain them he will.
Okay, yes, we may have borrowed a joke from Bill Nye. So sue us! (please don’t sue us).
Unfortunately NASA is not legally allowed to tweet about or promote this in any official capacity due to the government shutdown. However, there are still some ways you can participate in the Juno Mission yourself, as Bobak Ferdowski pointed out on his personal Tumblr: you can go to Hi Juno.com and create a morse message on Instagram to express your well wishes to the satellite, or you send the same message across the airwaves with a HAM radio. There’s also a countdown to the flyby on one of the few NASA sites that’s still operational so you can time it exactly right.
You know what else you should do? Tweet about it incessantly and do NASA’s job for them, since they can’t right now. That’s probably what we’re all going to do, because space is awesome and everyone needs to know about it.
- Voyager 1 snapped some pictures of Jupiter as it was travelling by
- Europea, not Mars, might have the best chance of life
- Jupiter’s core could be liquifying and dissolving