NASA's Juno Probe Reaches Orbit Monday

Jul 1, 2016

A space probe carrying an instrument from the University of Iowa goes into orbit around Jupiter Monday, July 4.  The NASA probe “Juno” was launched in 2011 on a mission to learn more about the solar system’s largest planet. 

Bill Kurth is a research scientist at the University of Iowa, and the lead investigator of the Waves instrument.  He says it will examine radio and plasma waves around Jupiter, to understand how the planet’s auroras are formed. 

"The most exciting part of this process is that we’ll actually fly directly above the auroras as they are being created, and we will be able to understand whether plasma waves help accelerate the charged particles that crash into the atmosphere to cause it to glow," he says. 

The Juno probe could also help scientists understand Jupiter's composition, and whether it has a rocky core. The mission is expected to last until 2018. 

Kurth talked with host Ben Kieffer during the second half of today's River to River program. 

Also included in this hour of River to River: Kieffer talks with pro-life and pro-choice advocates on both sides of the abortion debate to talk about this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding clinics in Texas. Adam Janke, wildlife specialist with Iowa State University Extension, discusses a black bear that was killed earlier this week in Northeast Iowa, and Steve Leonard gives a quick update on efforts to rebuild and refill the dam at Lake Delhi.