by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 30, 2011
The three massive solar panels that will provide power for NASA's Juno spacecraft during its mission to Jupiter have seen their last photons of light until they are deployed in space after launch.
The last of the Jupiter-bound spacecraft's panels completed pre-flight testing at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., and was folded against the side of the spacecraft into its launch configuration Thursday, May 26.
The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 30 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
"Completing the testing and stow of solar panels is always a big pre-launch milestone, and with Juno, you could say really big because our panels are really big," said Jan Chodas, Juno's project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
"The next time these three massive solar arrays are extended to their full length, Juno will be climbing away from the Earth at about seven miles per second."
This is the first time in history a spacecraft has used solar power so far out in space (Jupiter is five times farther from the sun than Earth). To operate on the sun's light that far out requires solar panels about the size of the cargo section of a typical tractor-trailer you'd see on the interstate highway.
Even with all that surface area pointed sunward, all three panels, which are 2.7 meters wide (9 feet), by 8.9 meters long (29 feet), will only generate about enough juice to power five standard light bulbs - about 450 watts of electricity. If the arrays were optimized to operate at Earth, they would produce 12 to 14 kilowatts of power.
In other recent events, the 106-foot-long (32-meter-long), 12.5-foot-wide (3.8-meter-wide) first stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle that will carry Juno into space arrived at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 24, aboard the world's second largest cargo aircraft - a Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124-100.
The two-stage Atlas V, along with the five solid rocket boosters that ring the first stage, will be assembled and tested on site at Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral this summer.
The launch period for Juno opens Aug. 5, 2011, and extends through Aug. 26. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the launch window opens at 8:39 a.m. PDT (11:39 am EDT) and remains open through 9:39 a.m. PDT (12:39 p.m. EDT).
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
Galileo Data Reveal Magma Ocean Under Jupiter Moon
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 16, 2011
New data analysis from NASA's Galileo spacecraft reveals a subsurface ocean of molten or partially molten magma beneath the surface of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io. The finding heralds the first direct confirmation of this kind of magma layer at Io and explains why the moon is the most volcanic object known in the solar system. The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Ca ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|