When Will Juno Enter Jupiter's Orbit, Exactly? Get Ready For This Moment
Are you a lover of all things adventure, exploration, and the bold new frontier of outer space? Five years ago, a stately little unmanned NASA ship was sent blasting off into the sky, ultimately piercing the atmosphere and heading out to space. It's name is Juno, and it's the fastest spacecraft ever created, which has allowed it to go a long way in a relatively short period of time ― indeed, it's widely believed that Juno will soon reach Jupiter's orbit, becoming the first-ever spacecraft to do so. So, when exactly will Juno enter Jupiter's orbit?
Obviously, there's a little uncertainty in things like this, even given how finely-calibrated and precise NASA's calculations are. First things first, there's always the chilling possibility that something goes wrong with Juno before it's able to reach its destination, which would be a genuine tragedy after coming so far. The margin for error when you're making a spacecraft that has to travel more than a billion miles is tiny, make no mistake.
But assuming that doesn't happen ― assuming that everything goes according to plan, in other words ― the folks at NASA reportedly have a pretty precise expectation of when the big moment will come. As Kenneth Chang detailed for The New York Times on Tuesday, Juno is projected to reach Jupiter's orbit at about 11:53 p.m. ET on Monday, July 4, in what would be a pretty joyful Independence Day gift.
According to Chang, when the big moment finally occurs it'll be announced to NASA by the sounding of a three-second-long beep, an understated acknowledgement of a what's a truly towering feat of science and engineering. If you're curious to see where Juno is at right now, you're in luck ― NASA's website will show you how far along its journey Juno is, and there's also an app you can download for Mac or PC that'll let you follow along with a visualization of the trek.
Simply put, NASA is clearly pretty excited about this history-making moment on the horizon, so why shouldn't you be too? Sure, it's not necessarily everybody's thing, but if you're the kind of person who enjoys indulging a sense of mystery, adventure, and human scientific achievement, Monday should be a day for you to feel pretty good. Hopefully everything goes off without a hitch ― remember, the big moment is schedule for 11:53 p.m. ET (8:53 p.m. PT).