If you caught any news over the 4th of July weekend, you might have heard that scientists successfully maneuvered the Juno spacecraft into the atmosphere of Jupiter after a 5 year journey from Earth. Despite the fact that Jupiter is bigger than all the other planets in our solar system combined, we know very little about it. The mission of Juno is to send back data that will change that.
When people think of space exploration, they mostly think about Florida, where Cape Canaveral has been the site of so many launches, and Houston, the place you call when you have a problem. But Colorado has a big hand in Aerospace Technology and scientific research into the other parts of the Universe. The Juno craft was built at the Lockheed Martin plant in Jefferson County, west of Denver, and controlled in a joint effort with the Mission Control team there, and the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Lockheed Martin is the largest of many companies in Colorado that work on aerospace technology.
Of course, the whole point of the Juno mission is to allow scientists to learn more about the huge planet. Some of the people anxiously awaiting data from Juno are in Boulder at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), led by Professor Fran Bagenal. Bagenal and a group that includes CU faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students, are excited to learn more about the magnetic field around Jupiter that creates the aurora at Jupiter’s poles. They will also be measuring the amount of water in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The hope is that this knowledge will not only expand the knowledge we have of Jupiter, but shed light on the planets in other solar systems.
The Banjo Billy Bus remains firmly on Earth. While doing nothing to expand our knowledge of astronomy, we can increase you knowledge of the history of Denver and Boulder. We are on our Summer schedule, with 2 tours a day in Denver and Boulder. Come blast of for some fun with us!