NASA going green with solar-powered Jupiter probe

August 1, 2011 - 10:59 AM
Journey To Jupiter

In this May 27, 2011 photo made available by NASA, technicians at Astrotech's payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., stow solar array #2 against the body of NASA's Juno spacecraft. The robotic explorer Juno is set to become the most distant probe ever powered by the sun. Launch is set for Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, aboard an unmanned Atlas V rocket _ barely two weeks after NASA's final space shuttle flight. ??(AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA heads for Jupiter this week. And its mission can't get much greener.

A solar-powered, windmill-shaped spacecraft named Juno is set to become the most distant probe ever powered by the sun. The robotic explorer is equipped with three tractor-trailer-size solar panels.

A rocket is set to launch the spacecraft on Friday morning from Cape Canaveral.

It will take Juno five years to reach Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. The spacecraft will orbit the planet for a year, sending back photos and other data.

Juno is the first of three high-profile astronomy missions for NASA in the coming months. Other destinations include the moon and Mars.