NASA Sending Spacecraft to Jupiter Next Month, Arriving by 2016

NASA announced the launch of a post-shuttle mission, the Juno spacecraft aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V Rocket, to Jupiter anytime between Aug. 5 and Aug. 26 of 2011 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Being the first of three planetary missions, Juno should arrive at Jupiter in about 5 years, or 2016.

The mission will aim at investigating the origins of the giant gas planet, its structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere orbiting it 33 times in total.

The solar-powered Juno will also capture close-up color shots of Jupiter including the first detailed views of the planet's poles.

NASA will hold a pre-launch news conference at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, Aug. 3, and will stream the launch at this location.

Juno will precede NASA's launch of the Curiosity Rover to Mars which is scheduled for Nov. 25 of this year.

Another high-profile mission to Jupiter was the Galileo spacecraft launched from the Atlantis space shuttle on Oct. 18, 1989. It was launched to study the atmospheric composition of Jupiter.