Manitoba

Winnipeg astronomer watches for 'make or break' moment for NASA's Juno spacecraft

Scott Young has been fascinated by the stars since 1979. In Grade 2, he watched a solar eclipse and he's been hooked on watching the skies ever since.

Scott Young is excited about tonight's historic space event

On Monday night, Scott Young watched as NASA's spacecraft Juno attempted to make it into the planet Jupiter's orbit. 1:52

Scott Young has been fascinated by the stars since 1979. In Grade 2, he watched a solar eclipse and he's been hooked on watching the skies ever since.

On Monday night, Young will be watching as NASA's spacecraft Juno attempts to make it into the planet Jupiter's orbit.

The Juno spacecraft was launched five years ago, and includes a $1-billion price tag.

Scott Young, manager of science communications at the Manitoba Museum, will be watching the skies closely tonight. (Scott Young)
Assuming that the attempt is successful, Juno "will stay in orbit and take a whole bunch of close-up images and measurements of Jupiter so that we can learn more about how Jupiter was formed," Young explained.

"And that tells us a lot about how our whole solar system, including the earth, was formed," he said.

Juno will be attempting a risky "make or break" manoeuvre into Jupiter's orbit according to Young.

"It's basically flying past Jupiter. If we don't turn the engine on to slow it down, so it can be captured into orbit, it's just ... zinging passed Jupiter and off into deep space."

Alana Cole reports on NASA attempting to put a solar powered satellite into orbit around the planet Jupiter. If it's successful. It will produce pictures never seen before and provide information we've never known before. 1:52

Young has been following the NASA project for the past 10 years, and always thought it would be cool to know more about the planet. He describes observing Jupiter from his own telescope at home.

"If you go outside in the evening, if you look off towards the southwest, it looks like a bright star … you can see the moons," he said.

"I've always wondered what other secrets it has. When I look in my telescope, what is there, that I'm not seeing? Now we're going to find out."

CBCNews.ca will carry a NASA livestream of the event starting 9:30 p.m. CT.

(Celina Fischer/CBC)

with files from Reuters

now