On Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the 197-foot-tall United Launch Alliance Atlas V-551 launch vehicle moves at a slow, steady pace from the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41. Atop the rocket is NASA's Juno spacecraft, enclosed in its payload fairing.
Liftoff is planned during a launch window which extends from 11:34 a.m. to 12:43 p.m. EDT on 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/Ken Thornsley