The Fourth of July, and J.O.I.

Monday, July 4th, 2016 is the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, when a band of plucky colonists told England “you are not the boss of us.” The event is typically celebrated by launching things into the air and watching them explode.

Monday is also J.O.I., Jupiter Orbit Insertion, in which the Juno probe, which was launched into the air (and out the top side of it, and beyond) almost five years ago,  will hopefully not explode as it fires its main engine on approach to the largest planet in our solar system.

This NASA teaser is fun to watch.

Click to play at YouTube
Click it to play it at

It’s not as crazy-go-nuts as Seven Minutes of Terror¹, but it’s pretty awesome.

If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of stuff like this. I surf news sites looking for more story, more pictures, more explanations. This time around I went straight to the source, and discovered that NASA had very helpfully linked a 90-page press kit.

Skip the news sites. Go straight to the stuff NASA has provided. It’s a relatively easy read, with lots of diagrams, and unless you’re an astronomer, rocket scientist, or Bill Nye², you’ll learn stuff.

Do you have children who are home from school this summer? School is back in session! Read up, and maybe grab the NASA Eyes app to watch as word of the JOI burn comes back from what will be the fastest-moving object³ in our solar system.

Or you can go outside and throw little rockets around. Whatever. I’m not the boss of you.

¹Trivia: The Curiosity Rover stuck the landing one year to the day after the Juno mission launched. Also, I have DARE MIGHTY THINGS printed out and hanging above my workstation. 

²Or Phil Plait, or Emily Calandrelli, or Neil deGrasse Tyson, or okay it’s a long list.

³At closest approach, Juno will be moving at 250,000 kilometers per hour⁴. Mercury zips around the sun at 170,000 kph. New Horizons (the Pluto mission) cracked 50,000 kph. 

⁴Light travels at 299,792 kilometers per second, so Juno would have to be going over 4,000 times faster before worrying about the Universe pulling it over and writing a citation.