After a voyage from Earth lasting almost 5 years, the Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter's orbit late last night.
The engine burn was tense. 35 minutes is a long time for a spacecraft burn; after 20 minutes it had slowed Juno enough to be in orbit, but not the correct one. It had to continue for another 15 minutes to put the spacecraft on the correct orbit. It worked essentially perfectly. The burn time was off by just one second. That will have no real effect on the orbit.
The 35-minute burn slowed Juno down by more than 1200 mph.
Launched from Earth in August 2011, the Juno probe is due to arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Once there, it will circle Jupiter 37 times, observing its atmosphere and magnetic fields, before plunging into the giant planet so as not to contaminate Europa with microbes.
Juno's principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Underneath its dense cloud cover, Jupiter safeguards secrets to the fundamental processes and conditions that governed our solar system during its formation. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter can also provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.
With its suite of science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet's auroras.
Juno will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system.
Science is great. That video? Maybe not so much.
The Oscar nominations are out. Surprises include Juno for Best Picture and Cate Blanchett for Best Actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, a movie that received mixed reviews at best. And I'm thinking that Daniel Day-Lewis is pretty much a lock for Best Actor, no?
Update: Most of the Oscar nominated animated shorts are available online.
Tucked in among The Kinks, The Velvet Underground and Belle & Sebastian, the track behind the animated opening title sequence for the new movie Juno is All I Want is You by the children's folk musician Barry Louis Polisar. It's as inspired a choice for this enjoyable little movie as PT Anderson's inclusion on the Punch Drunk Love soundtrack of He Needs Me (iTunes link), Olive Oyl's love song from Robert Altman's 1980 adaptation of Popeye.
Polisar was a favorite of mine as a kid. In particular, the 1978 album Naughty Songs for Boys and Girls was my undisputed favorite record. Featuring the classics Don't Put Your Finger Up Your Nose and Never Cook Your Sister in a Frying Pan, the album has never gone out of print. Give the tracks a listen on iTunes and if you have kids, this will give them lots of laughs and teach them to rebell against their parents.
The New York Times has a review of Juno here. Amazon link to Naughty Songs for Boys and Girls here.
Update: My favorite funnyblogger Todd Levin chimes in on the Juno soundtrack at tremble.com.