Bill Nye Believes Juno Orbiting Jupiter Is Almost Unbearably Exciting — VIDEO
Independence Day is coming up, but fireworks are not the only thing you should be looking forward to. NASA's Juno spacecraft, launched back in August 2011, is finally closing in on Jupiter, and is expected to arrive on July 4. In a recent series of videos called "Why with Nye," Bill Nye explains what the Juno Mission is and why it's important. Let's take a look at what everybody's favorite Science Guy has to say.
According to Nye, the instruments on the Juno spacecraft run on solar power. When the spacecraft arrives at its destination, it is supposed to enter into an orbit around Jupiter. In the third episode of the "Why with Nye" series, Nye explains that slight variations in Juno's orbit — determined by measuring the frequency of radio waves coming from Juno and from Earth — will help scientists figure out what Jupiter's core is made of.
The elemental composition of Jupiter poses many questions, and is one of the main reasons the Juno Mission is happening in the first place. In the fifth episode of "Why with Nye," Nye discusses the fact that the Sun and Jupiter are made up of a lot of the same things — namely, hydrogen and helium. But Jupiter has a higher concentration of heavier elements, like carbon, krypton, and oxygen. So why are these elements all the way out in Jupiter, instead of falling into the center of the Solar System? According to Nye, nobody knows yet, which is part of why Juno is being sent out there in the first place.
This is evidently an important moment for scientists, but Nye explains Juno's significance in a way that is easy to understand for those of us who don't necessarily know everything there is to know about Jupiter. He describes the storm that is Jupiter's Great Red Spot, and explains how the Juno spacecraft is trying to enter into orbit around Jupiter rather than aiming right for Jupiter itself.
It has been almost five years since an Atlas V 551 rocket launched Juno into space, and assuming that no disturbance pushes the spacecraft off its course in the next few days, we may soon have answers to some longstanding questions about Jupiter.