NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived to Jupiter Monday, ready to explore the king of planets for the next 20 months.
Juno capped its five-year journey to Jupiter in a nail-biting engine burn that sent it orbiting around the solar system’s largest planet.
Scientists and engineers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin erupted in cheers at 8:53 p.m. PT when the solar-powered spacecraft signaled it was swinging pole to pole around Jupiter.
Juno will now spend the next three months getting into position to begin studying the planet’s cloud-socked skies.
Scientists hope to determine how much water exists on the planet as well as why Jupiter’s southern and northern lights are the brightest in the solar system.
NASA has promised close-up views of the planet when Juno flies above the cloud tops during the $1.1 billion mission.
Jupiter is known as a gas giant full of hydrogen and helium. It is the fifth rock from the sun and the bulkiest planet in the solar system.
Along its 2.8-billion-kilometre journey, Juno became the first spacecraft to travel a long distance, operating strictly by the sun.
It is also the second mission ever designed to spend time at Jupiter.
Back in 1989, Galileo danced around Jupiter for nearly 10 years, before discovering signs of an icy surface on one of the planet’s moons, Europa.
With files from Rana Aladdin