NASA Launches Spacecraft On 5-Year Trip To Jupiter - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

NASA Launches Spacecraft On 5-Year Trip To Jupiter

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - It'll take five years for Juno to get where it's going -- but one planetary scientist says it was "fantastic" to see it lift off today from Cape Canaveral.

It's headed to Jupiter -- on a trip that scientists hope will answer some of the most fundamental questions of the solar system.

Hundreds of scientists and their families and friends watched from just a few miles away, cheering as the spacecraft soared into a clear midday sky.

The mission's chief investigator, Scott Bolton, says the findings could reveal how Jupiter formed and evolved. He says Jupiter is like a time capsule -- getting most of the leftovers from the sun's creation nearly 5 billion years ago. And because of its enormous gravity field, it has held onto that original material.

Juno will get much closer to Jupiter than any of the eight spacecraft that have visited the planet since the 1970s.

It has three huge solar panels that were folded for launch. Once they are opened, they should each stretch as long and wide as a tractor-trailer.
      
   

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