Scientific spacecraft Juno managed to set a new record on the 13th of January after it traveled nearly 800 million kilometers from the Sun. A solar-powered spacecraft breaks world record, previously held by the ESA’s Rosetta when it reached a peak orbit of 793 million kilometers from the Sun.
Travelling into the void of space
If traveling through space is hard, then try steering your spacecraft on low batteries. But thanks to a team of scientists, who was bold enough to push the boundaries of space exploration even further, and, of course, a few new gizmos, Juno managed to pull off the amazing feat.
According to Scott Bolton, chief space investigator from the San Antonio Research Institute, the spacecraft was specifically engineered to operate under rough conditions. This means that the Sun isn’t a problem when it comes to this little space lab.
In order to achieve this feat, the engineers working for the project had to build the spacecraft from scratch. Weighing around tons, the massive space lab is outfitted with three 9-meter solar cell arrays. According to the schematics, it would seem that each array encompasses approximately 18.686 solar cells, which are capable of storing solar energy.
The total power output of the solar array is 14 kilowatts. But there’s a catch to this: as the spacecraft moves away from the Sun, the solar panels will be unable to generate more power. But this doesn’t seem to stop the spacecraft from setting new records.
Launched on the 5th of August, 2011 from the Space Launch Complex number 41, located near Cape Canaveral, the spacecraft is scheduled to set a standard orbit with Jupiter on the 4th of July (how about that for an Independence Day celebration?)
Rick Nybakken, the head egg overseeing the Juno project, made a few statements regarding the Jupiter mission. The head scientists declared that as the craft approaches Jupiter, the solar powers will operate at 25 percent of its capacity.
In the past, there were only 8 spacecraft that managed to venture so far out into the Solar System, but all of them were nuclear powered.
According to the team, Juno managed to achieve this feat thanks to certain improvements in the areas of energy storage and management. Moreover, the scientists also plotted an energy-efficient course for the spacecraft around Jupiter, meaning that Juno will be able to operate will less power and perform all the tasks.
Solar-powered spacecraft breaks world record, being the first man-made craft to venture out so far into the solar system. The team also declared that the craft will again break the set record when it will be approaching Jupiter’s atmosphere. According to their calculation, once Juno will be in the orbit of Jupiter, the distance between the space vehicle and the Sun will be 832 million kilometers.
Once Juno reaches Jupiter, it will perform approximately 14 scheduled fly-bys around the planet, at an altitude of 5000 kilometers. During its mission, Juno will transmit data about the planet’s surface, origin and atmosphere.