Superfast Spacecraft: Juno

Juno Mission

The Juno spacecraft being assembled in 2010. Two days ago, the spacecraft zipped around Earth on its way to Jupiter.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LMSS

October 11, 2013

Earlier this week, NASA's fastest-ever spacecraft zipped around Earth as it shot toward its intended target: Jupiter. With help from Earth's gravity, the spacecraft accelerated to 25 miles per second — about 50 times faster than a typical bullet.

Juno had to be built to withstand the dangers of not only space but also the treacherous radiation belts surrounding Jupiter. In the picture above, scientists were outfitting Juno with special shielding to protect it as it orbits the gas giant.

Juno launched two years ago before zipping back around Earth for its gravity-assisted boost. With that boost, scientists expect the spacecraft to arrive at Jupiter in the fall of 2016 when it will begin its study of Jupiter's magnetic field and composition.