NASA Spacecraft Juno Begins 5-Year Trip to Jupiter [VIDEO & PHOTOS]

on August 06 2011 3:30 PM

NASA Spacecraft Juno launched from Florida on Friday and began its 5-year journey (1,740 million miles) to Jupiter. Upon arrival, it will study the gas giant for 1 year.

Its studies will include orbiting 33 times around the planet's poles and collecting data with its eight science instruments. Spacecraft Juno is also unique in that it is powered by solar panels.

Scientists are interested in Jupiter because its composition resembles a star (like the sun). The fact that it has multiple moons orbiting around it gives it a semblance of a miniature solar system.

Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, went so far to say that "Jupiter is the Rosetta Stone of our solar system."

"It is by far the oldest planet, contains more material than all the other planets, asteroids and comets combined, and carries deep inside it the story of not only the solar system but of us. Juno is going there as our emissary -- to interpret what Jupiter has to say," said Bolton.

Below are a video and photos of Juno's launch.

Rocket shoots skyward

Rocket shoots skyward NASA/Bill IngallsAn

Atlas 5 Carries Juno Spacecraft to Orbit

An Atlas 5 rocket streaks across the sky carrying NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft Aug. 5, 2011. Credit: NASA TV

An Atlas V rocket launches with the Juno spacecraft payload from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

An Atlas V rocket launches with the Juno spacecraft payload from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, August 5, 2011. The Juno spacecraft will make a five-year, 400-million-mile voyage to Jupiter, orbit the planet, investigate its origin and evolution with eight instruments to probe its internal structure and gravity field, measure water and ammonia in its atmosphere, map its powerful magnetic field and observe its intense auroras. REUTERS/Bill Ingalls/NASA

Juno Launch as Seen by Astronaut Nicole Stott

Astronaut Nicole Stott caught Juno's launch on August 5, 2011. She tweeted the picture with this comment: "Our view of Juno launch from Cocoa Beach. Next stop Jupiter! Beautiful!" Nicole Stott (via Twitter as @