Should all go to plan, Juno’s instruments and camera could provide insights into the history of the solar system and return stunning images of the planet. A five-year, 1.4 billion-mile voyage has ended for the Juno space probe which has arrived in orbit around Jupiter in a historic moment for astronomy.
The spacecraft, named after the Roman goddess, completed a high-stakes manoeuvre which saw it fire a rocket to slow its 150,000mph (250,000kph) approach to the planet.
Cheers and applause erupted in mission control at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology when a signal arrived confirming the burn was complete at around 4.54am.
The mission’s chief scientist, Scott Bolton, congratulated his team, saying “you’ve just done the hardest thing Nasa’s ever done” as the technicians and scientists celebrated completing the complex approach procedure.
However the mission still faces the huge challenge of operating the 1.1 billion US dollar (£890 million) probe in one of the solar system’s harshest environments, where circuitry-frying levels of radiation and high-velocity dust and particles will be a constant threat.
Should all go to plan, Juno’s instruments and camera could provide insights into the history of the solar system and return stunning images of the planet.
The spacecraft began the perilous final stage of its journey in the early hours of Tuesday morning with a 35-minute blast from its rocket engine.