On July 4, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will rocket into orbit around Jupiter, the largest and most massive planet in our solar system. Over the course of its 20-month mission, Juno will help answer fundamental questions about the gas giant, including the nature of its interior. Exactly how Jupiter formed, and whether the planet has a solid, rocky core, have long remained a mystery. As Juno circles Jupiter, it will measure variations in the planet’s gravity, allowing scientists to essentially "look" beneath its clouds and determine if the planet has a core. Knowing whether a core exists is important to our understanding of how our solar system evolved. Scientists think gravitational tugs from Jupiter early in its history might have brought small icy bodies containing water and organic molecules from the outer reaches of the solar system inward. This material would have likely deposited on developing planets such as Earth and Mars, creating the conditions needed to support life. Watch the video to learn more.
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Video courtesy of NASA/JPL/SwRI
Cover image courtesy of NASA/JPL
Jupiter images courtesy of NASA/JPL/SwRI
Early solar system image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech