NASA's Juno spacecraft to arrive at Jupiter

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After almost five years in space, the Juno spacecraft is expected to arrive at the gas giant on July 4. (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

After a nearly 5-year-long journey across more than 1.74 billion miles, NASA's Juno spacecraft is finally reaching Jupiter.

Launched in August 2011, the basketball court-sized spacecraft will study our solar system's largest planet and will also provide "new insight into how planetary systems form and develop in our galaxy and beyond," according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which will be managing the mission.

The mission is a proud step forward for space exploration: Juno is the "first space mission to operate a solar-powered spacecraft at Jupiter," the "farthest solar powered spacecraft from earth," and will be "the fastest spacecraft to enter orbit around a planet."

Juno will orbit Jupiter 37 times over the course of 20 months and will de-orbit into the planet in 2018. Juno is expected to arrive at Jupiter on July 4 at 11:35 p.m. ET | 8:35 p.m. PT. You can learn more about Juno at the mission's website or on its Facebook or Twitter pages.

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