The United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administrations managed to send its spacecraft Juno into Jupiter's orbit on Tuesday. According to The Guardian, Cheers erupted all over the world as the spacecraft made it to the perfect position within one second of the estimated time, making history with one of the riskiest space missions of all time.
Before entering the critical zone, the spacecraft fired its main engine for 35 minutes and slowed down to 1,212 miles per hour from its 37,000mph velocity. This was to give Juno the right speed to be captured by the 53-day orbit around the planet. In mid-October, the orbit will tighten the orbit to just 14 days, reported BBC.
If the mission succeeds, researchers are likely to get their best view of what lies beneath Jupiter's stormy clouds. It will help scientists understand the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. However, had the engine failed to fire at the right time or for an insufficient period, the spacecraft would have flown straight past Jupiter and into the oblivion of deep space.
Rick Nybakken, Juno's project manager, said the probe had to thread itself on to a very accurate trajectory to achieve its goal. "What we're targeting is a space that's tens of km wide. We're going to hit that within 1.2 seconds after a journey of 2.8 billion km. That tells you just how good our navigation team is. We need to get into orbit tonight and I'm very confident we will," said Nybakken.
The primary concern is the intense radiation around Jupiter, which could upset Juno's electronics. This radiation is a consequence of Jupiter's magnetic field, reported CNN.
Juno has been speeding toward Jupiter for nearly five years. Nasa plans to run the mission through to February 2018.
You can watch Nasa's updates live here.