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To Jupiter

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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On October 9th, 2013, NASA’s Juno mission completed an Earth ‘flyby’ to gain a little extra velocity (a gravitational slingshot maneuver that steals a tiny bit of Earth’s momentum) to get it to Jupiter in 2016. Here’s the mission’s course trajectory in this first panel.

Juno mission timeline/trajectory (NASA)


Right now the spacecraft is again moving away from the Earth, streaking across the inner solar system at 38 kilometers per second in a heliocentric frame.

The precise location as of today is shown in this second panel. Juno has crossed Earth’s orbit, heading downwind of the Sun.






But before it bid farewell to Earth it took a slew of images; nothing that we haven’t seen before, and simply a checkout of the science instruments, but special and slightly melancholy because the photographer will never again return home. Bon voyage Juno.

Farewell Earth (Juno - NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems)

Caleb A. Scharf About the Author: Caleb Scharf is the director of Columbia University's multidisciplinary Astrobiology Center. He has worked in the fields of observational cosmology, X-ray astronomy, and more recently exoplanetary science. His books include Gravity's Engines (2012) and The Copernicus Complex (2014) (both from Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux.) Follow on Twitter @caleb_scharf.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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