Juno will be in constant radio contact with the ground during the flyby. Should the craft mysteriously speed up or slow down, the anomaly will be picked up as an unpredicted shift in radio frequency. The speed of Juno's blistering flyby presents a challenge to radio antennae, however.
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"Our Malargüe station is designed to track very distant and relatively slow-moving spacecraft, while Juno will pass by moving very, very fast at just 561 km altitude," said ESA's Daniel Firre, responsible for the tracking support of the new Argentina-based radio antenna.
"This makes tracking Juno technically very challenging, but it's how the scientific process works. Gathering more data that can be analysed by experts is critical if we are ever to solve this perplexing mystery."
After using the Earth as an accelerator service, the 3.5 ton spacecraft will be flung into interplanetary space to continue its trek to Jupiter. Once arrived in 2016, the solar-powered spacecraft will orbit the gas giant for a year, studying the massive world's magnetic field, radiation belts and fascinating atmosphere. In doing so, a better understanding of Jupiter's interior may be gained, helping us understand how the planets, including Earth, evolved.