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NASA’s Juno successfully enters Jupiter’s orbit

Gorkha Post



CALIFORNIA — NASA celebrated a conquest on Tuesday as its US$1 bln unnamed Juno spacecraft entered the orbit around Jupiter after a five-year voyage in order to explore the giant planet.

Ground controllers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin erupted in applause when the solar-powered Juno spacecraft beamed home news that it was circling Jupiter’s poles.

The arrival at Jupiter was dramatic. As Juno approached its target, it fired its rocket engine to slow itself down and gently slipped into orbit. Because of the communication time lag between Jupiter and Earth, Juno was on autopilot when it executed the daring move.

“Juno, welcome to Jupiter,” said mission control commentator Jennifer Delavan of Lockheed Martin, which built Juno.

The spacecraft’s camera and other instruments were switched off for arrival, so there won’t be any pictures at the moment it reaches its destination. Hours before the encounter, NASA released a series of images taken last week during the approach, showing Jupiter glowing yellow in the distance, circled by its four inner moons.

The fifth rock from the sun and the heftiest planet in the solar system, Jupiter is what’s known as a gas giant — a ball of hydrogen and helium — unlike rocky Earth and Mars.

With its billowy clouds and colorful stripes, Jupiter is an extreme world that likely formed first, shortly after the sun. Unlocking its history may hold clues to understanding how Earth and the rest of the solar system developed.

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Named after Jupiter’s cloud-piercing wife in Roman mythology, Juno is only the second mission designed to spend time at Jupiter.

Galileo, launched in 1989, circled Jupiter for nearly a decade, beaming back splendid views of the planet and its numerous moons. It uncovered signs of an ocean beneath the icy surface of the moon Europa, considered a top target in the search for life outside Earth.


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Science & Technology

Stephen Hawking dies aged 76

Thompson Reuters



The English physicist, who wrote ‘A Brief History of Time’ and was the subject of Oscar-winning film ‘The Theory of Everything’ , has died at home in Cambridge. He was 76.

The UK’s Press Association reported his death, citing a spokesman for the family.

Hawking, who sought to explain some of the most complicated questions of life while himself working under the shadow of a likely premature death.

He was considered a medical marvel, having lived for more than half a century with the devastating condition motor neurone disease.

Hawking’s formidable mind probed the very limits of human understanding both in the vastness of space and in the bizarre sub-molecular world of quantum theory, which he said could predict what happens at the beginning and end of time.

His work ranged from the origins of the universe itself, through the tantalizing prospect of time travel to the mysteries of space’s all-consuming black holes.

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But the power of his intellect contrasted cruelly with the weakness of his body, ravaged by the wasting motor neurone disease he contracted at the age of 21.

Hawking was confined for most of his life to a wheelchair. As his condition worsened, he had to resort to speaking through a voice synthesizer and communicating by moving his eyebrows.

Doctors gave him just two years to live, but he defied them and went on to be one of the greatest minds we have ever known.

Stephen was born on January 8 1942 in Oxford – where his parents had decamped from north London for him to be born away from the worst of the wartime bombing raids.

The disease spurred him to work harder but also contributed to the collapse of his two marriages, he wrote in a 2013 memoir ‘My Brief History.’

In the book he related how he was first diagnosed: “I felt it was very unfair – why should this happen to me,” he wrote.

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