The spacecraft launched on August 5, 2011 to start its six year mission, culminating in a Jupiter arrival in 2016. The probe will flyby Earth later this year in order to save fuel. Unlike previous missions to the outer Solar System, Juno's energy will come only from solar panels, despite the relative dimness of the Sun at Jupiter's orbit.
|Juno's trajectory from launch in 2011 to arrival at Jupiter in 2016.|
In 2012, Juno executed several deep-space-maneuvers that prepared the probe for its flyby of Earth. In addition, the spacecraft, after reaching Jupiter, will assume an orbit that takes it past the north and south poles of Jupiter with every revolution. This path will take Juno just over 3,000 miles from the cloud tops near the poles, and will allow extensive observations of aurorae and other magnetic field phenomena. However, such an orbit also leaves Juno exposed to high concentrations of radiation, which will slowly degrade the functionality of the spacecraft. Juno is therefore planned to spend just over a year at Jupiter, making 33 orbits, before intentionally crashing into Jupiter late in 2017.
Juno will hopefully provide further information concerning the formation and evolution of Jupiter, specifically about its interior, about which little is known.