There has been a lot of excitement about the Juno probe this week, but what is it and what is its mission?
What is Juno?
Juno is a spacecraft designed and operated by NASA, the US space agency. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on the 5th August 2011 and has taken almost 5 years to travel the 716 million kilometres to Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Juno is 3.5 metres in height, and when its solar arrays are extended it’s more than 20 metres across. These arrays are covered in more than 18,500 solar cells, which allows Juno to operate even when it’s at such a great distance from the Sun.
Why is it called Juno?
In Roman mythology Juno was the Queen of the gods. She was married to the king, Jupiter, who wasn’t always well-behaved. Juno had to peer through the clouds to discover what he was up to; the spacecraft is called Juno because it will be looking beneath the clouds that cover the surface of the planet Jupiter.
Aboard the Juno craft are 3 models of Lego minifigures: Jupiter, Juno and Galileo, who discovered in 1610 that Jupiter had moons.
From left to right: Galileo, Juno and Jupiter. (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LEGO).
What is it looking for?
Jupiter is enormous; it’s two and a half times larger than all the other planets in our solar system combined. It’s made entirely of gases and is believed to have no solid surface. The planet rotates at an immense speed, completing one rotation every ten hours, and telescopes have shown us that it has a cloudy atmosphere with colourful spots and stripes. The largest of these, known as the Great Red Spot, is a storm that is several times the size of Earth and has been raging for more than 300 years.
Jupiter. The Great Red Spot is clearly visible. (Image: NASA).
This mission is the first time that humans will be able to glimpse what lies beneath Jupiter’s cloudy atmosphere. The main objective is to understand how the planet formed and evolved, which will give us more information about the formation of gas giants as well as the rest of the solar system. Juno will also measure the quantities of water and ammonia within the atmosphere, examine the magnetic field that surrounds the planet, observe any polar auroras and measure the gravity to see whether a solid core may exist after all.
In 1864 the French author, Jules Verne, published his novel “Journey To The Interior of the Earth”. In this book 3 men explore volcanic tunnels that lead miles beneath the Earth’s surface, and have a number of strange encounters along the way. One of these is the discovery of a massive ocean, deep underground. Now, 150 years later, it seems that Monsieur Verne’s imagination may have been more accurate than he knew.
An enormous reservoir of water, roughly 3 times bigger than all of the Earth’s oceans put together, has been detected 400 miles below the surface. The water is trapped inside a layer of blue rock called ringwoodite, in the layer of hot rock between the Earth’s core and its surface) that is known as the mantle.
While there are plenty of science kits in the shops, did you know that you can do loads of science with things that you already have in your store cupboard? Science enthusiast Lisa White has put together a list of things that you need for a variety of basic science experiments.
You might need extra equipment but these are the basics. Having white vinegar, salt, bicarbonate of soda and washing up liquid in stock will be useful too!
Where else can you find great Science Resources for Kids? You can browse our archives here on Jump! Mag or you can check out the following sites.
We will update this list in the coming months, and will concentrate on resources you can access online – lectures, TV Shows, YouTube channels, online archives, websites and blogs with science tutorials so that you can roll up your sleeves and get stuck into science.
We will update this list regularly, so if you have something cool to add, let us know.
Sparxx is an initiative bought to you by the Women’s Engineering Society (WES).
Their aim is to bring you all the latest news, views, events, opportunities, careers, interesting stuff, fun stuff and freebies to help girls find inspiration for future careers. Sign up for their newsletter here.
Real science, online – The Zooniverse is home to the internet’s largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects. You can choose to help researchers characterize bat calls, or explore Mars, without leaving your house.
Bill Nye is a scientist, engineer, comedian, author and inventor. His mission is to make science fun, and help people understand the science that makes our world work. Here are the Home Demos, the experiments you should try at home sometime. Keep clicking around and you’ll find the Episode Guides.
Edheads is an online educational resource that provides free science and math games and activities that promote critical thinking. You can design a mobile (cell) phone, repair a weakened aorta or learn about simple machines, and much more.
Silvia is a young girl from California, USA and she’s been making Super-Awesome webshows on making cool stuff since 2010. She demonstrates science experiments, and great craft projects. You’ll never be bored, when Silvia is around!
Veritasium is a science video blog featuring experiments, expert interviews, cool demos, and discussions with the public about everything science – these are at times more advanced, but well worth a look.
Engineering is Elementary is a project of the National Center for Technological Literacyat the Museum of Science, Boston (MOS). They have fantastic resources for teachers and home-ed families, on a range of topics. Some of the content is free to use, and the teaching guides and stories can be purchased on the site.
If your parents are on Twitter, get them to follow @realscientists – a rotational twitter account featuring real scientists, science writers, communicators and policy makers talking about their lives and their work. Tweeters from different fields of science and science-related fields.