Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Our solar system is huge, let us break it down for you. Here are a few things you should know this week: 

1. Closeup of a King

For the first time since it entered orbit around Jupiter in July, our Juno spacecraft has flown close to the king of planets—this time with its eyes wide open. During the long, initial orbit, Juno mission managers spent time checking out the spacecraft “from stem to stern,” but the science instruments were turned off as a precaution. During this latest pass, Juno’s camera and other instruments were collecting data the whole time. Initial reports show that all went well, and the team has released a new close-up view that Juno captured of Jupiter’s north polar region. We can expect to see more close-up pictures of Jupiter and other data this week.

+Check in with Juno

2. Getting Ready to Rocket

Our OSIRIS-REx mission leaves Earth next week, the first leg of a journey that will take it out to an asteroid called Bennu. The mission will map the asteroid, study its properties in detail, then collect a physical sample to send back home to Earth. The ambitious endeavor is slated to start off on Sept. 8.

+See what it takes to prep for a deep space launch

3. New Moon Rising

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has already mapped the entire surface of Earth’s moon in brilliant detail, but the mission isn’t over yet. Lunar explorers still have questions, and LRO is poised to help answer them.

+See what’s next for the mission

4. A Mock-Eclipse Now

We don’t have to wait until next year to see the moon cross in front of the sun. From its vantage point in deep space, our Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) sometimes sees just that. Such an event is expected on Sept. 1.

+See the latest sun pictures from SDO

5. Jupiter’s Cousins

Our galaxy is home to a bewildering variety of Jupiter-like worlds: hot ones, cold ones, giant versions of our own giant, pint-sized pretenders only half as big around. Astronomers say that in our galaxy alone, a billion or more such Jupiter-like worlds could be orbiting stars other than our sun. And we can use them to gain a better understanding of our solar system and our galactic environment, including the prospects for finding life.

Want to learn more? Read our full list of the 10 things to know this week about the solar system HERE

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youtube

After five years traveling through space to its destination, our Juno spacecraft will arrive in orbit around Jupiter today, July 4, 2016. This video shows a peek of what the spacecraft saw as it closed in on its destination before instruments were turned off. Watch our noon EDT Pre-Orbit Insertion Briefing on NASA Television for more: https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv or http://youtube.com/nasajpl/live

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short interpretations of asteroids

click {here} to find your asteroid signs and the meanings of the asteroids. *please note that these can be a little inaccurate since they are not big parts of your natal chart. Also, it doesn’t mean you can’t feel like another chiron sign.

CHIRON SIGN

Aries //  Tries to overcome feeling worthless.

Taurus // Sometimes they felt like they didn’t receive enough of something. 

Gemini // May feel like no one listens to them.

Cancer // Feels like an outsider. 

Leo // Feels like their talents have been overlooked. 

Virgo // Needs to learn to deal with imperfection.

Libra // May feel like all their relationships have gone wrong. 

Scorpio // May be scared of own power or feel powerless.

Sagittarius // Life may feel like a continuous spiritual crisis.

Capricorn // May be a work-a-holic to prove their own worth.

Aquarius // Feels uncomfortable in a large group.

Pisces // Always at crisis. May be prone to depression or drug abuse.

CERES SIGN

Aries // Nurtures independence. 

Taurus // Feels nurtured when fed and pampered

Gemini // Feels nurtured when someone talks or writes to them.

Cancer // Enjoys being mothered and mothering others.

Leo // Takes pride in nurturing others.

Virgo // Critical when nurturing others.

Libra // Nurtured by beauty.

Scorpio // Nurtured through touch.

Sagittarius // Hides their nurturing qualities.

Capricorn // Nurtured when organized and in control.

Aquarius // Loves the strange and off-beat

Pisces // Reflects emotions of those around them.

PALLAS SIGN

Aries // Finds the fastest solution.

Taurus // Receives information physically.

Gemini // Sees world through words.

Cancer // Sees world through emotions. 

Leo // Sees world as a canvas they can paint on.

Virgo // Perceives analytically.

Libra // Seeks balance.

Scorpio // Sees world through issues beneath the surface.

Sagittarius // Can see the big picture. 

Capricorn // Sees underlying form.

Aquarius // Sees all future possibilities.

Pisces // Interprets mystical reality.

JUNO SIGN

Aries // Attracted to aggressive or dominant partners.

Taurus // Attracted to someone financially stable.

Gemini // Attracted to someone expressive.

Cancer // Attracted to someone emotionally intimate.

Leo // Attracted to someone romantic and exciting.

Virgo // Attracted to someone who sets high standards for themselves.

Libra // Attracted to fair and balanced partners.

Scorpio // Attracted to someone with sexual intimacy.

Sagittarius // Attracted to someone that’s intellectual.

Capricorn // Attracted to someone committed and determined.

Aquarius // Attracted to someone unconventional and will give them freedom.

Pisces // Attracted to someone they can have a spiritual bond with.

VESTA SIGN

Aries // Self-motivated.

Taurus // Fixed routines

Gemini // Strong communicator.

Cancer // Serves others.

Leo // Works creatively.

Virgo // Driven to meet their goals.

Libra // Needs to work with others.

Scorpio // Extremely passionate.

Sagittarius // Devoted to a higher power or universal truth.

Capricorn // Devoted to history and duty.

Aquarius // Serves humanity.

Pisces // Dedicated to serving those in need. 

Juno Spacecraft: What Do We Hope to Learn?

The Juno spacecraft has been traveling toward its destination since its launch in 2011, and is set to insert Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the solar system. Humans have been studying it for hundreds of years, yet still many basic questions about the gas world remain.

The primary goal of the Juno spacecraft is to reveal the story of the formation and evolution of the planet Jupiter. Understanding the origin and evolution of Jupiter can provide the knowledge needed to help us understand the origin of our solar system and planetary systems around other stars.

Have We Visited Jupiter Before? Yes! In 1995, our Galileo mission (artist illustration above) made the voyage to Jupiter. One of its jobs was to drop a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere. The data showed us that the composition was different than scientists thought, indicating that our theories of planetary formation were wrong.

What’s Different About This Visit? The Juno spacecraft will, for the first time, see below Jupiter’s dense clover of clouds. [Bonus Fact: This is why the mission was named after the Roman goddess, who was Jupiter’s wife, and who could also see through the clouds.]

Unlocking Jupiter’s Secrets

Specifically, Juno will…

  • Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, which helps determine which planet formation theory is correct (or if new theories are needed)
  • Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
  • Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
  • Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights – providing new insights about how the planet’s enormous

Juno will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system.

For updates on the Juno mission, follow the spacecraft on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com