An Atlas V rocket with the help of attached solid rocket boosters blasted NASA’s Juno probe into space Aug. 5, 2011. The probe will arrive in Jupiter’s orbit in approximately five years. 

Juno will look at the origins and evolution of the gas giant and try to determine what lies beneath its clouds. Scientists hope that by studying Jupiter they can gain knowledge into the origin of our solar system and be able to better predict how planets may form around other stars. To date, hundreds of planets the size of Jupiter and larger have been detected orbiting distant stars and scientists are now looking for smaller, Earth-size planets that might harbor life.

In order to get there in five years, the spacecraft will fly by Earth once in order to use the planet’s gravity for acceleration purposes. Following that maneuver, the solar-powered spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter in July 2016 and then orbit for about a year collecting data. Following completion of its mission, the probe will be de-orbited into Jupiter’s atmosphere. 

We will post high res photographs to CTPhotoJunkie later this weekend to view and purchase!