- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
- HAYDEN: Intelligence, evidence and the case against Russia
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
NASA launches spacecraft on 5-year trip to Jupiter
Question of the Day
Hundreds of scientists and their families and friends watched from just a few miles away, cheering and yelling, “Go Juno!” as the NASA spacecraft soared into a clear midday sky atop an unmanned rocket.
“It’s fantastic!” said Fran Bagenal, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who is part of the project. “Just great to see the thing lift off.”
Juno is solar powered, a first for a spacecraft meant to roam so far from the sun. It has three huge solar panels that were folded for launch. Once opened, they should each stretch as long and wide as a tractor-trailer. Previous spacecraft to the outer planets have relied on nuclear energy.
With Juno, scientists hope to answer some of the most fundamental questions of our solar system.
“How Jupiter formed. How it evolved. What really happened early in the solar system that eventually led to all of us,” said Juno’s chief investigator Scott Bolton, an astrophysicist at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
Bolton said Jupiter is like a time capsule. It got most of the leftovers from the sun’s creation nearly 5 billion years ago _ hence the planet’s immense size _ and its enormous gravity field has enabled it to hold onto that original material.
Jupiter is so big it could hold everything in the solar system, minus the sun, and still be twice as massive. Astronomers say it probably was the first planet in the solar system to form.
“We look deeper. We go much closer. We’re going over the poles. So we’re doing a lot of new things that have never been done, and we’re going to get all this brand-new information,” Bolton said.
Juno’s liftoff appeared to create more buzz than usual, given the hiatus in human launches from the United States _ the space shuttle program ended two weeks ago. NASA’s long-term goal is to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the mid-2030s.
There are a few special passengers aboard Juno, though.
Attached to the probe are three little Lego figures specially made of space-grade aluminum. They represent the Italian physicist Galileo, who discovered Jupiter’s four biggest moons; the Roman god Jupiter; and his wife Juno, for whom the spacecraft is named.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Russia shipping sophisticated weapons systems to Ukraine separatists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is 'torture'
- Brian Kelly, Notre Dame ready for different route to title
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq