Space Missions Current Affairs - 2019

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft completes fourth flyby of Jupiter

NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft completed closest flyby of Jupiter mysterious cloud tops for the fourth time. All eight of Juno’s science instruments were switched on during the flyby.

During its closest approach it was roughly 4,300 km above Jupiter’s cloud tops and travelled at a speed of about 208,000 kmph. Currently, Juno is locked in a 53-day orbit around Jupiter.

It is expected to perform three dozen flybys over the next one and a half years. During its flybys, Juno probes beneath the cloud cover of Jupiter and studies Jupiter’s auroras to learn more about its origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere

About Juno spacecraft

  • Juno was launched in August 2011 to study Jupiter’s composition and evolution. It’s the first solar power spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and second after Galileo.
  • The unmanned spacecraft had successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit in July 2016 after a five year journey and traversing distance of nearly 2 billion miles.
  • The primary goals of the mission are to find out whether Jupiter has a solid core, how its atmosphere and magnetosphere formed, and whether there is water in the gas cloud shrouding the planet.
  • The information gathered from it will provide vital clues to how the planet formed and evolved, but also to how the solar system we live in came into existence.
  • The spacecraft has been named after the Roman goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter who is considered as the god of the sky in ancient Greco-Roman mythology.

For more information: Juno Spacecraft

China successfully launches its longest ever manned mission to space

China has successfully launched longest-ever manned mission by taking two astronauts Jing Haipeng (50) and Chen Dong (37) into the orbit.

They were launched on board of Shenzhou-11 (heavenly vessel) spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre near the Gobi Desert in northwest China. The spacecraft was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket.

Key Facts

  • Both astronauts will spend a month aboard an experimental space laboratory Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2).
  • During the mission, they will conduct aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation.
  • They will also undertake ultrasound tests during space travel for the first time, cultivate plants in space etc.
  • The Shenzhou-11 mission is China’s sixth manned spacecraft. It will be first time that Chinese astronauts will stay in orbit for medium term.
  • Earlier in 2013, three Chinese astronauts in a manned space mission had spent 15 days in orbit and were docked with a space laboratory Tiangong 1.


Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 as part of China’s efforts to set up its own permanent manned space station by 2022.  It is China’s second experimental space station module and had upgraded habitat with improved life support systems, power, communications and research equipments. By launching longest-ever manned space mission, China has moved a step closer to establish its permanent space station. After completion, it will make China, only the country to have space station facility is space as the current in-service International Space Station (ISS) retires by 2024.