1703: Juno

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"The name wasn't a tip-off?" "Honestly, at first I thought you were saying 'Juneau'. A gravity assist seemed like a weird way to get to Alaska, but I figured it must be more efficient or something."
Title text: "The name wasn't a tip-off?" "Honestly, at first I thought you were saying 'Juneau'. A gravity assist seemed like a weird way to get to Alaska, but I figured it must be more efficient or something."


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Just a first draft.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic was written in honor of the Juno space probe, which made headlines the day before this comic aired.

Speaking at a NASA press conference a blonde woman standing behind a lectern announces that the Juno space probe has arrived at Jupiter within one second of its scheduled arrival. After traveling 1.7 billion miles such a precision is very impressive which is acknowledged by someone from the press.

The joke is that Juno was meant to arrive at Saturn, but the timing is still apparently the same. If Saturn had been the intended target, Juno would have been off course by 10.25 AU when it arrived at Jupiter. Randall might be making a subtle reference to past difficulties NASA has had with converting to metric — in July 2016, Jupiter was 870 million kilometers from Earth, while Saturn was 850 million miles from Earth (and half the distance traveled by Juno). A similar measurement coincidence was noted in what if? A Mole of Moles.

Title text

Currently there is a disagreement about who says what in the title text. Maybe they will need to be listed as alternatives.

It should be noted that Juno is mostly linked to Jupiter and not to Saturn (the probe was sent to Jupiter in the real world), which fit best with the press speaks first explanation. Also this fits with the order of speaking. NASA, press, NASA and then in the title text press again.

Press speaks first

In the title text someone from the press asks if the name of the space probe, Juno, wasn't a tip of given the relation to Jupiter? The goddess Juno was the wife of Jupiter the chief deity in the Roman mythology. He is however also her sister and her father is Saturn so there are relations to both Gods/planets. Her relationship to Jupiter, however, is most likely more common knowledge explaining the naming of the probe.

However, instead of mentioning this dual relationship one of the three NASA representatives say that at first they even believed it was for Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Showing that the engineers did not have ve a clue about the object of the mission. They did wonder why a gravity assist was planned to get there but guessed it was a more efficient method. Given that gravity assist is only relevant for interplanetary missions recuiring a fly by of a planet it would never make sense to use to get between two destinations on Earth. Even though Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, from where the probe was launched, is about as long away from Juneau as it is possible to get inside the birders if the United States.

NASA speaks first

In the title text someone, likely a member of the NASA team, asks if the name of the space probe, Juno, wasn't a tip off. In Roman mythology the goddess Juno was the daughter of Saturn (though also the wife of Jupiter). However, instead of mentioning this, someone (presumably a member of the press) replies that at first they had thought the probe was named for Juneau, the capital of Alaska. They had wondered why NASA wanted to use gravity assist to get there, but had guessed that it must be more efficient.

Megan continues speaking

The title text might also be continued discussion amongst the NASA representatives. After being shushed, Megan begins needling the spokeswoman about the huge error NASA made. The spokeswoman then admits to being confused about why the mission was so complicated.


[At a NASA press conference stands a blonde woman behind a lectern with the NASA logo. To the left stands Megan to the right Cueball, both looking towards the blonde woman.]
Blonde woman: After traveling 1.7 billion miles, the Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter within one second of its scheduled arrival time.
Logo: NASA
[A person off-panel to the left comments and all three turns towards the speaker.]
Off-panel voice: Very impressive!
Blonde woman: Thank you.
Logo: NASA
[All three look straight out as Megan comments on the praise.]
Megan: I mean, we were aiming for Saturn. Still, nailed the time.
Blonde woman: Shhhh.
Logo: NASA

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According to http://www.space.com/18383-how-far-away-is-jupiter.html it is about 600 million miles to Jupiter, and according to http://www.space.com/18477-how-far-away-is-saturn.html it is about 1.7 billion miles to Saturn. So they went the distance to Saturn but ended up in Jupiter. They must have gone i pretty long circles to go 1.7 billion miles to get 600 million miles away. Aquaplanet (talk) 14:46, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

That's 1.7 billion kilometers. They lost the Mars Climate Orbiter that way. .42 (talk) 15:38, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
Actually, the space.com website does say Saturn is 1.7 billion miles away at its furthest, just as Jupiter is 600 million miles at its furthest. In either case, interplanetary travel isn't a matter of taking the shortest route. Yes, Juno went 1.7 billion miles to go to Jupiter (anywhere from 365 million to 600 million miles away, currently 370 million according to Google), because it was the easiest / most cost effective (in terms of fuel) way to get there. --Mr. I (talk) 15:47, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
Jupiter is actually 872 million km away right now, which just happens to be roughly the current distance to Saturn if kilometers are confused with miles. .42 (talk) 16:18, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
These interesting observations should be included in the explanation --Kynde (talk) 17:29, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
Here is a cool animation showing the path that Juno took to get to Jupiter: https://66.media.tumblr.com/4e881a0340b323bcdfa3797001ca1c6c/tumblr_o9ua2xrMW11qiz5q7o1_540.gif mwburden (talk) 13:31, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

Of course anyone who has bought a used car off Autotrader will know that how far away something is doesn't necessarily correlate particularly well to how far you have to go to get there 14:57, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Several sources have reported that Juno arrived at its Jupiter orbit 1 second off schedule http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2016/07/06/how-juno-arrived-jupiter-one-second-off-schedule/86745128/. -- 15:33, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

I was going to come here to ask "Did they really make it within one second? And how do they decide when it is 'in orbit'?", but in that article is a quote "We hit our burn targets within one second" which makes sense - 'in orbit' starts when the engines turn off after the last course correction. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
If Kerbal Space Program has taught me anything, it's that you're "in orbit" from the moment the projected trajectory both no longer intersects with a planet, and puts your craft on a path that remains permanently within the target object's gravity well.Xseo (talk) 17:08, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
Blondie as a new character?

2nd time in short order "Blondie" has been the main character. See this Community portal proposal regarding new categories and please comment there for or against. --Kynde (talk) 19:53, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Who says what in the title text?

Given that Juno was connected to both Jupiter and Saturn, the point of the title text is a little obscure. However, it seems fairly clear to me that the first question ("The name wasn't a tip-off?") is supposed to come from the NASA team (i.e., "it didn't tip you off that we were aiming for Saturn?") and that the reply is supposed to come from the press. NASA named the probe. NASA decided where to send it. It makes no sense for the press to ask that first question, or for NASA to assume it was named after Juneau or guess that gravity assist "must be more efficient or something". Kynde appears to disagree with me, however, so perhaps some other people could weigh in and give their views. Garik (talk) 16:51, 6 July 2016 (UTC)

Yes I still disagree. To me it seems like a continuation of the conference and it is now the press to speak. And given that I knew Juno to be related to Jupiter but not that she was the daughter of Saturn (and given the reason for the naming in the real world) I would not say that the name in any way would lead anyone to take it as a hint for going to Saturn. But great to discuss it. For sure it was NASA who made the mistake not the press. --Kynde (talk) 17:24, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
Now we have both deleted each others edits. So to prevent an edit war I have inserted both versions for now. --Kynde (talk) 17:53, 6 July 2016 (UTC)
As Homer Simpson would say: "Kids, you're both right!". However my first impromptu interpretation when I read the comic was the first. But after thinking about it, I tend more to the second (with Megan saying the first sentence) and like to present a fourth alternative: Both statements are from the press (different persons, ofc). Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 08:18, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

Juno: "You Know" - 16:46, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

Juno is also a rather large asteroid (which I suppose is closer to Jupiter than to Saturn, though might not necessarily be closer to Jupiter than to Alaska). Should this fact be mentioned in the explanation? 08:29, 8 July 2016 (UTC)