Juno

Posted On October 9, 2013 By In Astronomie, Ruimtevaart And 6772 Views

Jupiter-sonde scheert langs aarde

Juno

Vandaag scheert de ruimtesonde Juno, die op weg is naar Jupiter, op slechts een paar kilometer langs de aarde. Het ruimteschip moet daarmee een zwaartekrachtsslinger krijgen, om zo makkelijker richting de grootste planeet van ons zonnestelsel te vliegen.

Juno werd in augustus 2011 gelanceerd. In die tijd was de Atlas V, waarop de sonde vloog, niet sterk genoeg om zo’n zwaar ruimtevoertuig naar Jupiter te brengen. De Juno-sonde weegt namelijk een goede 3,200 kilo. Daarom besloot NASA om de zwaartekracht van de aarde te gebruiken. Daarbij scheert Juno zo dicht langs onze planeet, dat hij als het ware weggeslingerd wordt richting het Joviaanse stelsel.

De sonde scheert vandaag op zo’n 560 kilometer van de aarde af. Dat is helaas net niet te zien met het blote oog.

Door de gravity boost bereikt Juno een snelheid van 26,280 kilometer per uur, volgens NASA.

“De Atlas V-lancering gaf Juno ongeveer de helft van haar snelheid,” zegt Scott Bolton van het Southwest Research Institute, waar Juno wordt bestuurd. “Deze manoeuvre geeft Juno de kracht van een raketlancering, zonder een raket te gebruiken.”

Bolton benadrukt dat de shutdown van de Amerikaanse overheid, waardoor NASA praktisch niet meer werkt, de fly-by niet beinvloedt. Het Southwest Research Institute is namelijk slechts onder contract van NASA – vergelijkbaar met het Jet Propulsion Laboratory vanwaar Curiosity wordt bestuurd.

“We hebben niets met de shutdown te maken. Het enige verschil is dat NASA geen PR meer rondom de missie doet.”

Juno komt in juli 2016 aan bij Jupiter. De sonde gaat daar een vol (aard)jaar onderzoek doen naar de atmosfeer van de planeet. Er wordt gekeken naar de aanwezigheid van water en ammoniak in de dampkring, en de sonde gaat de magnetische- en zwaartekrachtsvelden van Jupiter onderzoeken. Daarmee hoopt NASA meer te weten te komen over de kern van de planeet – onder andere hoe groot die is.

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