Washington, Feb 4 (IANS) Set to arrive at Jupiter this year to study the giant planet from an elliptical, polar orbit, NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft successfully executed a maneuver to adjust its flight path on Wednesday.
“This is the first of two trajectory adjustments that fine tune Juno’s orbit around the Sun, perfecting our rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
The Juno spacecraft’s thrusters consumed about 0.6 kg of fuel during the burn and changed the spacecraft’s speed by 0.31 metres per second.
At the time of the maneuver, Juno was about 82 million kms from Jupiter and approximately 684 million kms from Earth.
The next trajectory correction maneuver is scheduled on May 31.
Launched on August 5, 2011, thee spacecraft will orbit the Jovian world 33 times, skimming to within 5,000 kms above the planet’s cloud tops every 14 days.
During the flybys, Juno will probe beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and study its aurorae to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.