Nasa spacecraft begins 5-year trip to Jupiter

2011-08-05 20:45

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Cape Canaveral - A sun-powered robotic explorer named Juno rocketed away on Friday on a five-year journey to Jupiter, the solar system's most massive and ancient planet.

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 was the first step in Juno's 2.7 billion kilometre voyage to the gas giant Jupiter, just two planets away but altogether different from Earth and next-door neighbour Mars.

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.
- AP
Read more on:    nasa  |  solar power  |  space
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