The United Launch Alliance Atlas V-551 launch vehicle carrying NASA's Juno planetary probe is off to a roaring start on its five-year journey to Jupiter from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. At right is the Vertical Integration Facility where the vehicle was stacked.
Liftoff was at 12:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 5. The solar-powered spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere and investigate the existence of a solid planetary core. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. Launch management for the mission is the responsibility of NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/juno. Photo credit: NASA/Alan Ault