The largest planet of our solar system Jupiter has long been shrouded in mystery, with fictional stories surrounding the gas giant and its turbulence and storms along its bands. The existence of the Great Red Spot has been known of since the 17th century, and Galileo spied upon its moons in 1610.
As Jupiter is known not to have a solid surface and has an inhospitable atmosphere due to its temperature and intense radiation, it's not served as a setting for science fiction literature and films. Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey novel series does focus on Jupiter, but as a waypoint in the novel versus the final destination for the film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). Jupiter's moons serve as the setting more frequently, such as with Europa in the 2013 SciFi thriller EUROPA REPORT and Io in the SciFi thriller/space western OUTLAND (1981).
This week we've begun to learn more about the Giant Planet, as solar-powered spacecraft Juno completed its five year, 1.7 billion mile journey to the planet Jupiter. Within hours of arriving, the craft hit burn targets within one second--on a target that was just tens of kilometers large--and successfully entered the orbit.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems's Director of Space Exploration Systems Guy Beutelschies spoke of the team of over 900 people who contributed to this mission, stating:
Putting an orbiter around Jupiter, that's the reason we all go into this profession--It's science fiction, and yet it's fact.
The mission will be focused on understanding the formation and evolution of Jupiter and its deep atmosphere and magnetosphere over the next 20 months through a series of orbits. Learn more about the project on the official Mission Juno website.
Watch NASA's press briefing and enjoy the excitement as the Juno team leads share their relief and passion for this historical achievement in space exploration.