Mission preparation and launch

How the University of Leicester was involved in the early stages of the Juno mission

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NASA's Juno spacecraft undergoing environmental testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems near Denver. Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LMSS
In 2003 Professor Stan Cowley of the Department of Physics & Astronomy was invited to become a Co-Investigator on a new space mission to Jupiter being proposed to NASA from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, in response an Announcement of Opportunity under the New Frontiers 2003 programme issued in October of that year.

Following submission of a number of proposals in response to the 2003 NASA AO, Juno was selected for Phase A study in July 2004 in parallel with a mission to return a lunar sample from the moon’s south pole. Final selection in favour of Juno was made in June 2005 after a further year of joint study. The spacecraft was subsequently developed and built by Lockheed Martin Corporation, with project management by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and instruments provided by a number of US and Italian institutes.

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NASA's Juno planetary probe atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V-551 launch vehicle at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kenny Allen
It was launched by an Atlas V vehicle from Cape Canaveral on 5 August 2011, undertook a near-Earth fly-by on 10 October 2013 to pick up additional speed to send the spacecraft onward to Jupiter, and will according to plan be inserted into polar orbit at Jupiter on 4 July 2016 (early 5 July UK time).

Planetary scientists at the University of Leicester will be engaged in exploring Jupiter’s magnetosphere, atmosphere, and polar auroras in support of Juno’s three mission objectives.


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