processing facility in Titusville, Fla. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles multiple times to find out more about the gaseous giant's makeup, origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.
Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator said, "The Juno spacecraft and the team have come a long way since this project was first conceived in 2003. We're only a few months away from a mission of discovery that could very well rewrite the books on not only how Jupiter was born, but how our solar system came into being."
Next week, Juno will be removed from its packing that it made the long trip in, the first of the numerous milestones to prepare it for launch. Later in the week, the spacecraft will begin functional testing to see if any damage occurred after the road trip from Colorado. After this, the team will load updated flight software and perform a series of mission readiness tests. These tests involve the entire spacecraft flight system, as well as the associated science instruments and the ground data system.
Juno will be lifted into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifting off from Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch period opens Aug. 5, 2011, and extends through Aug. 26. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the launch window opens at 11:39 am EDT and remains open through 12:39 p.m. EDT.