英語:“NASA’s Spacecraft Juno Begins Orbit Of Jupiter”

UPDATE: 11:54 p.m. ET — “Welcome to Jupiter!”

After a tense, 35-minute engine burn, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully began its orbit of Jupiter late Monday evening, the pivotal moment of the space agency’s five-year long venture to reach the planet.

Hundreds of millions of miles away, the $1.1 billion mission all hung on a single 35-minute engine burn — a maneuver that slowed the spacecraft during its final approach and allowed the craft to sink into orbit around the solar system’s largest planet.

“Jupiter is spectacular from afar and will be absolutely breathtaking from close up,” Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said in a statement ahead of Monday night’s events.

The solar-powered spacecraft entered the gas giant’s dangerous orbit Monday, just seconds behind schedule, to raucous applause from those gathered at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

NASA reported less than an hour later that Juno had turned its solar panels towards the sun for power, the last crucial move undertaken during the initial phase of the orbit.

The 35-minute engine burn, which began at 11:18 p.m. EST, slowed Juno by 1,212 mph, enough so it could be captured by the planet’s gravitational pull. Still, Juno was traveling some 130,000 mph before it reached Jupiter.

“We’ve only got one shot,” Guy Beutelschies, director of space exploration systems at Lockheed Martin, the company that built and operates Juno, told NPR. “If we miss this flyby, we’re assuming the mission’s over.”

But the Fourth of July arrival proved successful.

Now, Juno will continue a lengthy dance with Jupiter, circling the giant planet 37 times over a 20-month period and swinging as close as 2,600 miles of the planet’s cloud tops, NASA said. It will mark the first time a spacecraft has orbited Jupiter’s poles, NASA added, “providing new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet’s core, composition and magnetic fields.”

The mission is also expected to provide scientists with a better understanding of our solar system as a whole.

“It just so happens, deep inside this body are the secrets we’re after,” a voice-over says in the NASA video below. “Secrets about our early solar system.”

The heavily armored spacecraft has been built to withstand the planet’s extreme, radiation-rich environment. But the costly mission is full of unknowns.

“When you sail into terra incognita, that is always going to make you sit on the edge of your seat, because you don’t really know for sure what you’re facing,” Heidi Becker of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory told National Geographic.

Juno is expected to begin scientific observations following a final engine burn on Oct. 19, after a lengthy phase in which the spacecraft will be captured in the planet’s orbit and all scientific instruments will be turned on. The spacecraft is set to meet a fiery death when it burns up in Jupiter’s atmosphere in February 2018.

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成功! エンジン噴射完了。#Juno(ジュノー)は今、#Jupiter(木星)の軌道を回っていて、木星の謎解明の準備をしています。

数億キロも離れた場所で、11億ドル(約1120億円)かけたこのミッションは35分間のエンジン噴射にすべてが懸かっていた。 最終進入で機体の速度を下げ、機体を太陽系の中で最も大きい惑星の軌道に乗せる作業だった。




エンジン噴射完了、軌道保持。みなさんの謎を解明する準備をしています #Jupiter。よろしく。


「私たちには一度しかチャンスがありませんでした」と、ナショナル・パブリック・ラジオ(NPR)に語ったのは、ジュノーを開発、操作しているロッキード・マーティン社の宇宙開発システム部のディレクターガイ・ベウテルスチー氏 。「この接近を逃していたら、ミッションはおしまいでした」








Copyright 2016 The Huffington Post Japan, Ltd.