Bill Nye, back on the small screen: Explains Juno mission for NASA

Having trouble wrapping your head around why NASA’s Juno spacecraft needed to come so close to Earth as it makes its way to Jupiter?

Bill Nye has you covered.

To honor Juno’s closest approach to Earth since it launched in 2011, NASA and the YouTube channel THNKR debuted a new web series Wednesday called “Why With Nye.” It features Bill Nye using a host of goofy props to talk about Juno and Jupiter -- how we plan to get the spacecraft to Jupiter, and what we hope to learn once it’s in orbit around the giant planet.

The first episode is called, “Bill Nye Explains the Earth Fly By” and in it you’ll learn why NASA launched Juno in a rocket that could only get Juno halfway to Jupiter, and how allowing the spacecraft to fall toward Earth will actually help it get all the way there.


You’ll also learn that spacecraft do not make awesome noises in space.

If you think that video is cool, I also recommend you check out “Bill Nye Asks Does Jupiter Have a Core?” In this video, he explains that one of Juno’s many missions is to help scientists discover what type of core lies at the center of the planet, buried beneath Jupiter’s dense cloud cover. Is it metal? Is it some kind of super pressurized metallic hydrogen? Does it even have a core at all?

There are four “Why With Nye” videos so far -- the other two are about Jupiter’s great storm that has raged for more than 300 years, and one on how solar-powered spacecraft work. There are also more to come.

And one final note: If you are interested in learning more about Juno, such as its flight trajectory and what it hopes to accomplish once it gets there, NASA has a pretty great website for the Juno mission. Despite the government shutdown, it is still, for now, in working order.

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