Solar Panels Power Spacecraft Into Jupiter's Orbit
The expedition started on August 5th, 2011 and has just reached its destination. This journey was almost completely powered by solar. Here's an excerpt:
Another exceptional feat of mankind was reached on Monday, as NASA’s Juno spacecraft was thrust into the orbit of Jupiter, 870 million kilometers from earth. It was achieved with the support of solar technology, which is being used to power the pioneering craft on its mission.
The Juno spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, who installed 18,698 individual solar cells on the craft to give it power on its journey. The Lockheed team is also jointly controlling the spacecraft’s flight operations, with NASA, from its Mission Support Area.
The Juno mission, which launched on 5 August 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program. It has the ambitious aim of not only visiting Jupiter, but also to try and understand the origin and evolution of the planet, by investigating its core, magnetic field and atmosphere.
On the symbolic date of 4 July, the Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, which is described by Lockheed Martin Space Systems as a “large, elliptical polar orbit” some 870 million kilometers from earth.