The solar-powered spacecraft which left Earth five years ago has finally reached its destination and entered into Jupiter’s orbit.
Nasa’s Juno probe fired its main rocket engine at 4.18 am BST, slowing itself down from a speed of 165,000 mph (265,000 kph) enough to drop into a sweeping orbit around the planet.
- Nasa probe finally reached the gas giant early this morning after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth
- The spacecraft successfully carried out a braking manoeuvre enabling it to drop into a wide orbit around Jupiter
- Unlocking how the planet formed may help us to understand how Earth and the rest of the solar system developed
With Juno on autopilot, the delicately choreographed move came without any help from ground controllers, so the spacecraft’s mission control erupted with cheering and applause when the orbit was confirmed at 4:53 am BST.
During its mission of exploration, Juno will circle the Jovian world a total of 37 times, soaring low over the planet’s cloud tops. Scientists will for the first time be able to see what lies beneath Jupiter’s atmosphere, and help unlock secrets about how the solar system formed.
The spacecraft will end its mission in 2018 when it takes a swan dive into Jupiter’s atmosphere and disintegrates — a necessary sacrifice to prevent any chance of accidentally crashing into the planet’s potentially habitable moons.