A NASA New Frontiers
Concealed beneath a dense cover of clouds, Jupiter, the archtypical "Giant Planet," safeguards key secrets to the fundamental processes underlying the early formation of our solar system. The launch of the Juno mission in August, 2011 begins a five-year journey back to Jupiter, to investigate the remaining unanswered questions beneath the surface of the mysterious gas giant. In 2016, the innovative, solar-powered, spinning spacecraft will reach its destination and enter into a highly ellipitical polar orbit that avoids Jupiterís regions of high radiation. Peering deep into the dense atmosphere, Juno's eight instruments will map the Jovian gravity field and magnetosphere to reveal the true nature of its structure and composition. The hidden secrets of Jupiter revealed by the Juno mission will unlock the remaining mysteries of our solar system's origin and early evolution.
Professor Thorne is a Co-I on the mission, chair of the JUNO Radiation Working Group, and a member of the JUNO Magnetospheric Working Group.