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Video: NASA set to launch Jupiter exploration spacecraft

Unmanned solar-powered spacecraft is due to be launched later today – but will take five years to reach its destination.

An artist's depiction of the NASA Juno spacecraft in front of Jupiter.
An artist's depiction of the NASA Juno spacecraft in front of Jupiter.
Image: AP Photo/NASA/JPL

NASA IS on the verge of launching a new solar-powered spacecraft all the way to Jupiter.

The robotic explorer, named Juno, is atop an unmanned rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Liftoff is scheduled for 11.34am local time today (4.34pm in Ireland).

It will take Juno five years to reach Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. The spacecraft will be powered by three huge solar panels. It will be the farthest any solar-powered craft has ever travelled. Previous Jupiter probes have relied on nuclear energy.

Jupiter is believed to be the oldest planet in the solar system. Astronomers hope to figure out the composition of planets, by uncovering the ‘ingredients’ of this gas giant. Juno will spend at least one year circling Jupiter’s poles.

Watch: NASA outlines the Juno project:


- AP

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