On October 9th, 2013, Slooh will image NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it makes a flyby of Earth to catch a gravity boost on its way to Jupiter. Juno’s gravity assist maneuver will bring it within 347 miles (559 kilometers) of Earth, making it possible for Slooh to capture a glimpse from its observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, which is one of the best locations on Earth to see this event. Slooh will track Juno live on October 9th, 2013 starting at 6:30 PM PDT / 9:30 PM EDT / 01:30 UTC (10/10) international times: http://goo.gl/7ducFs along with a Slooh broadcast team hosted by Paul Cox. Viewers can view the event live on Slooh.com using their computer or mobile device, or by downloading the free Slooh iPad app in the iTunes store. Questions can be asked during the broadcast via Twitter by using the hashtag #nasajuno.
Juno was launched toward Jupiter on August 5, 2011, but is incapable of reaching the giant planet on its own. As such, NASA devised a plan to have Earth provide a gravity assist to increase Juno’s speed for the final leg of the journey to Jupiter. Over the past two years, Juno looped around the inner solar system, traveled around the Sun, and then made its way back into Earth’s orbit, where it will now rendezvous with Earth to perform the assist. The gravity assist is a clever way to add propulsion to Juno that is equivalent to a second powerful rocket on the spacecraft. Juno is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter July 4, of 2016, where it will study Jupiter’s atmosphere and interior.
Besides watching on Slooh, viewers near Cape Town, South Africa will have the best opportunity to view the spacecraft traveling across the sky. The spacecraft will most likely not be visible to the unaided eye, but binoculars or a small telescope with a wide field should provide an opportunity to view.