Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system by a long shot and with it comes a long, dark shadow.
NASA's Juno spacecraft tasked with gathering visual information on the gas giant has just spent an incredible 10.5-hour stretch outrunning the shadow of Jupiter with its thrusters on full tilt.
You may have seen some of Juno's incredible work such as the following image.
Were Juno to be caught in the dark, she would need to be resuscitated 12 hours after the planet's cycle with no guarantee she would ever wake again.
Much like Opportunity Rover on Mars in the sandstorm that blocked the sun, Jupiter's shadow would drop the temperature to a level that Juno mightn't ever wake up from.
So action was taken and Juno went full The Fast and the Furious 1 Vin Diesel and burnt up 73 litres of fuel to escape the shadows frozen black clutches.
Juno flew into the rotation of the planet to cut the time in the shadow considerably,
Victory! 🙌Our @NASAJuno mission successfully executed a 10.5-hour propulsion maneuver, keeping the solar-powered spacecraft out of what would have been a mission-ending shadow cast by Jupiter on its next close flyby.— NASA (@NASA) October 2, 2019
👀See how we did it: https://t.co/B8z2byHFoM pic.twitter.com/IO9FBgXO4I
Starting on Monday just before 8 pm, Juno traversed the planet in the sun at a speed just over 200km/h.
“Jumping over the shadow was an amazingly creative solution to what seemed like a fatal geometry. Eclipses are generally not friends of solar-powered spacecraft. Now instead of worrying about freezing to death, I am looking forward to the next science discovery that Jupiter has in store for Juno.” - Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.
As are we Scott. As are we.
Fortunately, Juno did not go the way of Opportunity Rover and lives on thrusting in the deep unknown.
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