NASA has launched a robotic explorer to Jupiter at 12:25 EDT on August 5, 2011. The spacecraft, named Juno, blasted off aboard an unmanned rocket Friday from Cape Canaveral. It will take Juno five years to reach the largest planet in the solar system.
Juno is a NASA New Frontiers mission to the planet Jupiter, and was originally proposed at a cost of approximately US$700 million (FY03) for a June 2009 launch. NASA budgetary restrictions resulted in Juno being re-scheduled to its August 2011 launch on board an Atlas V rocket in the 551 configuration — one of the heaviest payload configurations. As of June 2011, the mission was projected to cost $1.1 billion over its life.
Juno is set to study Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere while in polar orbit. Juno will also search for clues about how Jupiter formed, including whether the planet has a rocky core. Juno is also set to study the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere of Jupiter, and how mass is distributed within the planet. Juno will also study Jupiter’s deep winds, which can reach speeds of 370 mph.
The Juno mission is set to conclude in October 2017, after 33 orbits around Jupiter. The probe will be de-orbited to crash into Jupiter.CLEAR SKIES?  Weather Data for Friday, August 5th, 2011
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