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Juno spacecraft will slingshot past Earth

  • Oct 9, 2013 · 7:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

Juno spacecraft will slingshot past Earth on October 9th for a velocity boost
en route to Jupiter. At closest approach the spacecraft will be only 347 miles
above Earth's surface. This map shows the spacecraft's ground track:

During
the flyby, Juno's science
instruments will be activated to sample the Earth environment--a practice run
for data-taking when the spacecraft reaches Jupiter in 2016. Despite the
shutdown of the US government, "the flyby will continue as planned,"
says Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research
Institute. "The commands associated with our instruments were already on
board before the shutdown."

To
celebrate this event, the Juno team invites amateur radio operators around the
world to say "HI" to Juno in a coordinated Morse Code message. Juno's
radio and plasma wave experiment, called Waves, should be able to detect the
message if enough people participate. Please
join in
, and help spread the word to fellow amateur radio enthusiasts.

The
spacecraft will not be visible to the unaided eye. Estimates of its maximum
brightness range from magnitude +7.5 to +8.5. Such a faint object moving
rapidly across the sky will be a challenge for even large backyard telescopes.
There is a slim chance, however, that sky watchers could see a "Juno
flare" if sunlight glints off the spacecraft's large solar arrays. Anyone
who successfully photographs the spacecraft is encouraged to submit their images.

PS:
If you want to see a really
bright spacecraft, download our Satellite
Tracker app
and check out the International Space Station.

GIANT PROMINENCE, GONE: At the end of the day on Oct. 7th, reports
of a giant prominence emerging over the sun's northeastern limb began to come
in from around the world. "It was huge and easily visible in my Lunt 80mm solar scope," says
Paul Haese, who sends this picture from Glenalta, South Australia:

By
the morning of Oct. 8th, the prominence was gone. The structure's magnetic
underpinnings became unstable and erupted, flinging part of itself into space.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast: movie.
A coronal mass ejection is now
emerging
from the blast site, but Earth is not in the line of fire.



 

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