NASA’s Juno Spacecraft is about to make history as it approaches the gas giant, Jupiter for a fly by on July 4th. The spacecraft left Earth 5 years ago and is now approaching Jupiter where it will go into orbit around the planet, relaying valuable information about Jupiter to astronomers and scientists back home.
But before any of that even begins, Juno captured some fascinating sounds as it entered Jupiter’s magnetic field on June 24th.
The Waves instrument onboard the spacecraft recorded an audio stream as the craft entering through a “bow shock,” the boundary that marks the edge of Jupiter’s magnetosphere.
In a media release, William Kurth of the University of Iowa, lead co-investigator for the Waves investigation, compared bow shocks to sonic booms.
"The solar wind blows past all the planets at a speed of about a million miles per hour, and where it hits an obstacle, there's all this turbulence."
Listen to the eerie sounds Juno recorded here:
A planet’s magnetosphere is its first line of defense against solar winds that blow in outer space at millions of miles per hour. "If Jupiter's magnetosphere glowed in visible light, it would be twice the size of the full moon as seen from Earth," Kurth said.
Jupiter’s magnetosphere is the largest of any of the planetary magnetospheres in the solar system. When solar winds hits Jupiter’s magnetosphere space particles can become hyper-charged and can become trapped, making the field a radioactively violent place for crafts like Juno and all its electrical equipment. Fortunately, NASA was prepared and built Juno into a shielded tank, allowing it a good chance of making it through Jupiter’s magnetosphere without much damage.
Juno’s mission is only about to begin, as it will make an orbit insertion once it reaches Jupiter tonight (July 4) at 10:30pm EDT. The spacecraft will then peer deeper inside the gas giant to unravel its origins and evolution over the next 20 months. We can’t wait to see what Juno is going to uncover!
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