by Staff Writers
Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Aug 04, 2011
NASA's Juno spacecraft is getting ready to lift off on Friday, Aug. 5, 2011. On Aug. 4, at about 5 a.m. PDT (8 a.m. EDT), the Jupiter explorer will be rolled some 1,800 feet (about 550 meters) from the 286-foot-tall (87-meter) Vertical Integration Facility, where the Atlas V rocket and Juno were mated, to its launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
"Our next move will be much farther - about 1,740 million miles [2,800 million kilometers] to Jupiter," said Jan Chodas, Juno project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The rollout completes Juno's journey on Earth, and now we're excited to be taking our first step into space."
The launch period for Juno opens Aug. 5 and extends through Aug. 26. The spacecraft is expected to arrive at Jupiter in 2016. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the launch window opens at 8:34 a.m. PDT (11:34 a.m. EDT) and remains open through 9:43 a.m. PDT (12:43 p.m. EDT).
At Cape Canaveral, Atlas V rockets are assembled vertically on a mobile launch platform in the Vertical Integration Facility south of the pad. The mobile platform, carrying Juno and its rocket, will be rolled out to the pad using four 250-ton (227,000-kilogram) rail cars.
When launched, Juno will take almost 11 minutes to reach its temporary orbit around Earth. About 30 minutes later, the Atlas rocket's second stage will perform a second, nine-minute burn, after which Juno will be on its five-year journey to the largest planet in the solar system.
Juno Spacecraft to Carry Three Figurines to Jupiter Orbit
In Greek and Roman mythology, Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief. From Mount Olympus, Juno was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter's true nature. Juno holds a magnifying glass to signify her search for the truth, while her husband holds a lightning bolt.
The third LEGO crew member is Galileo Galilei, who made several important discoveries about Jupiter, including the four largest satellites of Jupiter (named the Galilean moons in his honor). Of course, the miniature Galileo has his telescope with him on the journey.
Juno Jupiter Mission to Carry Plaque Dedicated to Galileo
The plaque, which was provided by the Italian Space Agency, measures 2.8 by 2 inches (71 by 51 millimeters), is made of flight-grade aluminum and weighs six grams (0.2 ounces).
It was bonded to Juno's propulsion bay with a spacecraft-grade epoxy. The graphic on the plaque depicts a self-portrait of Galileo.
It also includes - in Galileo's own hand - a passage he made in 1610 of observations of Jupiter, archived in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale in Florence.
Galileo's text included on the plaque reads as follows: "On the 11th it was in this formation - and the star closest to Jupiter was half the size than the other and very close to the other so that during the previous nights all of the three observed stars looked of the same dimension and among them equally afar; so that it is evident that around Jupiter there are three moving stars invisible till this time to everyone."
An image of the plaque is online here.
Juno at NASA
Juno at SWRI
Jupiter and its Moons
Explore The Ring World of Saturn and her moons
The million outer planets of a star called Sol
News Flash at Mercury
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