NASA's Juno Spacecraft Is Halfway to Jupiter

Juno Earth Jupiter Halfway

A NASA spacecraft has hit the halfway mark of its five-year voyage to the solar system's largest planet: Jupiter.

The odometer on NASA's Juno probe clicked over to 880 million miles (1.415 billion kilometers) on Monday (Aug. 12), space agency officials said. That means the spacecraft is halfway to Jupiter, at least in terms of distance traveled, they added.

The $1.1 billion Juno mission launched in August 2011 and will arrive at the Jovian system in July 2016. The probe is taking an indirect, looping path to its destination, with a close Earth flyby scheduled two months from now to provide a dramatic speed boost.

"On Oct. 9, Juno will come within 347 miles (559 km) of Earth," Juno project manager Rick Nybakken, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. (Juno was 34.46 million miles, or 55.46 million km, from Earth when the halfway milestone was reached on Monday morning, officials said.)

"The Earth flyby will give Juno a kick in the pants, boosting its velocity by 16,330 mph (26,280 km/h)," Nybakken added. "From there, it's 'Next stop, Jupiter.'"

Once Juno reaches Jupiter, it will circle the planet for a full Earth year, making 33 orbits from pole to pole ( via ).