Science, Nature and Tech

What is Juno?

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Sam has worked as a forensic scientist as well as for the British government, and has degrees in both archaeology and osteoarchaeology. She has 2 children, is passionate about science, reading, history and music, and loves dyeing her hair bright colours!

Sam blogs about all kinds of science at www.samanthagouldson.com.
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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.

Screenshot 2016-07-07 at 11.03.21

(Image: NASA)

 

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).

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).

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.

For more information about the Juno mission you can watch this video from Nasa, and have a look at the Juno mission webpage.

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Science, Nature and Tech

Science News For Kids – Water Found on Mars

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Sam

Sam has worked as a forensic scientist as well as for the British government, and has degrees in both archaeology and osteoarchaeology. She has 2 children, is passionate about science, reading, history and music, and loves dyeing her hair bright colours!

Sam blogs about all kinds of science at www.samanthagouldson.com.
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Until 3 billion years ago, Mars was a wet planet much like Earth. It had land, an extensive atmosphere and an ocean that covered two thirds of the northern hemisphere as well as smaller bodies of water. But significant climate change caused the water and atmosphere to boil away, leaving Mars a dry and arid planet. Or so we thought… then came the news from Nasa – Water found on Mars! 

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Science, Nature and Tech

When Two Girls Sent Their Cat into Space

Lynn Schreiber

Founder and Editor at Jump! Mag
A freelance writer, who lives and works in Scotland with her family and fluffy white dog.

Likes: Writing, reading, twitter and chocolate
Dislikes: Negative and angry people

Have you ever let go of a helium-filled balloon and let it soar into the sky? Maybe you’ve even tied a message onto the string, with your contact details and hoped that someone would let you know where it landed when it popped. These awesome girls went a big step further than that. They sent a balloon into SPACE, with a couple of Go-Pro cameras attached, in a really cool science experiment. 

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Science, Nature and Tech

New Horizons – the Pluto flyby

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Sam

Sam has worked as a forensic scientist as well as for the British government, and has degrees in both archaeology and osteoarchaeology. She has 2 children, is passionate about science, reading, history and music, and loves dyeing her hair bright colours!

Sam blogs about all kinds of science at www.samanthagouldson.com.
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On Tuesday July 14th at 12:49 BST, the New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto, the ninth planet in our solar system. But why is it there and what is it looking for?

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Science, Nature and Tech

A Trip to Mars!

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Sam

Sam has worked as a forensic scientist as well as for the British government, and has degrees in both archaeology and osteoarchaeology. She has 2 children, is passionate about science, reading, history and music, and loves dyeing her hair bright colours!

Sam blogs about all kinds of science at www.samanthagouldson.com.
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Imagine being able to catch a flight to Mars as easily as we travel to another country – that was the idea behind the Trip To Mars session I attended at the Cheltenham Science Festival. It was conducted by Dr Suze Kundu and Dr Simon Foster and presented as a pre-flight safety briefing, with both of them dressed as pilots! There were a lot of humorous moments and sci-fi references but also some great science.

Suze and Simon suggested that in the future, flights to Mars could be far quicker than they are now, and explored how some of the bigger problems could be overcome. For example, the Sun’s magnetic field deflects a significant proportion of the cosmic radiation that could be harmful to humans on Earth; as spaceships travel further away from the Earth and Sun they will have less protection because the magnetic field weakens. To combat this it’s possible that spaceships will contain or be covered with large and powerful magnets, to produce the same deflective effect. This would have the added advantage of also deflecting radiation from solar flares.

Spaceships journeying to Mars would travel at such speed that even tiny fragments of rock and dust could be damaging to the hull. To combat this, and also the heat generated when the spaceship passes through an atmosphere, Suze and Simon discussed the possibility of spaceships being coated in aerogel. This amazing material is a solid formed from silicone dioxide but is 98% air; this means that it is extremely light but also strong. Its melting point is 1,200°C (equivalent to asbestos) and it is a wonderful insulator. Because it consists of large pockets of air between thin layers of silicone dioxide, any dust or rock fragments that hit it would be slowed and stopped before they could penetrate the aerogel completely.

Suze and Simon also discussed the possibilities and problems with cryostasis. Theoretically this is when a person’s body is cooled to temperatures so low that they enter hibernation, ideal for long journeys through space. Unfortunately our technology isn’t advanced enough to do this at the moment; any attempt would result in the cells rupturing and the person dying. But in the future it will be possible, perhaps after the person’s DNA has been altered slightly so that they can produce antifreeze proteins like some species of wasps and turtles.

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