The U.S. celebrated not only Independence Day this 4th of July, but also the arrival of Juno, a NASA space probe, to Jupiter after five years of travel. But what’s the big deal you might wonder? Juno has three solar array wings that collect sunlight to power the spacecraft. It’s the first of its kind to travel so far into space — we’re talking 1.74 billion miles on sunlight power here! Jupiter is also the largest planet and basically a giant ball of gas. This gas could have easily destroyed Juno upon entering its orbit had it not been designed properly.
While in orbit, Juno will explore Jupiter and find out how it became a planet in
the first place. So what happens after Juno’s done exploring? Well, unlike spacecrafts before it, Juno won’t actually travel back to earth. Instead, it will crash into Jupiter and destroy itself. Why destroy a perfectly good spacecraft? It’s actually more expensive to bring a spacecraft back to Earth than to destroy it. It’s also not ideal to let it oat around in space forever — that’s space littering! So Juno will do its job in space and then say, “Goodbye!” once its mission is complete.