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NASA Juno mission to Jupiter - space lecture

26 Apr
  • Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium
  • Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium

Winchester Science Centre & Planetarium

Telegraph Way, Winchester

SO21 1HZ

The Wednesday lectures are aimed at a level a little above most popular science lectures, so come prepared to exercise your brain and learn the science behind the headlines.

The Juno mission to Jupiter is NASA’s latest endeavour to explore our outer solar system. Launched from Earth in 2011, Juno’s trip to Jupiter took about five years. Though the journey may seem long, this flight plan allowed the mission to use Earth’s gravity to speed the craft on its way. The spacecraft first looped around the inner solar system and then swung past Earth two years after launch to get a boost that propelled it onward to its destination. In July 2016, Juno successfully fired its main engine and was captured into orbit around the giant planet to begin its scientific mission. The daring spacecraft will now spend ~1.5 years performing a total of 37 orbits around Jupiter, beginning with two orbits that last 53 days before burning the main engine once more to adjust Juno into its final “science orbit”.  This final trajectory takes Juno around the largest planet in our solar system 35 times in 14 days orbits, skimming just a few thousand kilometres above the cloud tops at closest approach.  The orbit and spacecraft and have been carefully designed to perform a clear set of science objectives in the solar system’s harshest space environment.

Juno will improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Specifically, Juno will determine how much water is in Jupiter's atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed). Juno will look deep into Jupiter's atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties of the most dynamic atmosphere in the solar system. The close 14 day orbits will allow Juno to map Jupiter's magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the nature of the planet's deep interior (which is otherwise invisible). Finally, Juno will explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere near the planet's poles, including the auroras – the brightest of any in the solar system – providing new insights about how the planet's enormous magnetic field is connected to its atmosphere.

Emma Bunce was awarded her PhD in 2001 for her thesis entitled “Large-scale current systems in the Jovian Magnetosphere”. In 2003 she was awarded a PPARC Post-doctoral Fellowship to study Saturn’s magnetosphere, she was then appointed to the Department’s lecturing staff in 2005, and has enjoyed teaching undergraduates ever since. In 2009 she was promoted to Reader, and in 2013 she was promoted to Professor. To date, she has published roughly 90 papers in the scientific literature and her work has received national and international recognition.

Her main research interests have focused on the giant rotating magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn, with a particular desire to explore and understand the mechanisms which generate the dynamic auroral emissions in their upper atmospheres. She has recently take on the role of PI on the ESA/JAXA BepiColombo MIXS instrument, and is a Co-Investigator on the NASA Cassini magnetometer team. She is also currently acting as the Deputy PI on the Imperial College (PI Professor Michele Dougherty) JUICE magnetometer, and a Co-Investigator on the JUICE UVS instrument (PI Randy Gladstone, SWRi).


4:30pm lecture £8/£6
6:30pm lecture £10/£8  

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