Everything You Need To Know About Last Night’s Record-Breaking NASA Mission

Photo: Courtesy of NASA.
This post was updated on July 5, 2015 at 3:40 PM.

After five years and $1.1 billion, NASA's Juno spacecraft has, at long last, entered Jupiter's orbit. The momentous event occurred in fitting patriotic fashion, happening just before midnight on the Fourth of July. Juno already broke records earlier this year, when it traveled farther than any other solar-powered spacecraft before, a distance of 493 million miles from the sun. Now, it has set another milestone with its successful arrival at Jupiter. Only one other spaceship has ever entered Jupiter's orbit — NASA's 1989 Galileo mission — but NASA experts are hopeful that Juno will provide far more understanding and data than that previous mission. Juno will spend the next 20 months studying Jupiter's atmosphere. NASA is hoping the spacecraft will gather information on the planet's water, cloud motions, and overall structure. While Juno has a noble mission, the name of the spacecraft also has some interesting history, as some observant Reddit users and The Daily Dot pointed out. When Galileo arrived in Jupiter's orbit, it named each of Jupiter's moons after the mythological god's mistresses (in Greek and Roman mythology). Now, his mythological wife, Juno, is coming to uncover the truth. As the myth goes, Jupiter tried to hide himself in a cloud to cover up his infidelity. But Juno saw through his weak attempt and blew the cloud away, exposing what lay beneath. That's what NASA is hoping this Juno will do while in her hubby's orbit. Go, woman go.
Google celebrated the occasion with a special Doodle and even President Obama expressed his excitement for what Juno will find.
Although you were probably looking up at the sky last night taking in the fireworks, you wouldn't have been able to see Juno enter Jupiter's orbit — even with a super-powered telescope. However, you can get an up-close look at exactly what the spacecraft has seen so far, thanks to time-lapse footage captured by Juno in its final approach to Jupiter. The stunningly surreal sequence shows the four Galilean moons surrounding the planet. Watch below, download NASA's interactive Eyes app, and keep checking NASA's site for more info on the groundbreaking mission.
Updated 3:40 PM with more information about the mythology behind Jupiter and Juno.

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