On August 5, 2011 NASA will launch a new mission. One of several missions now in the works at NASA, the Juno probe will travel to Jupiter. Juno won’t arrive at the solar system’s largest planet until mid-2016. When it does, it will start analyzing a mysterious planet that’s ten times the size of Earth.
A computer-generated image of the Juno probe within Jupiter’s orbit.
The Juno Probe
Juno is a technological marvel. Juno’s sensors will let scientists study Jupiter’s gravitational field – which is so strong that anything that entered its atmosphere four billion years ago, back when the planet was formed, is still trapped there – like an ancient insect preserved forever in a block of amber, Jupiter is a ready-made time capsule waiting to be explored.
Juno’s detectors will also check the planet for signs of water (past or present), in order to assess the possibility that life has existed there. It’s an opportunity for not only NASA scientists but future scientist and engineers who want to learn more about the universe to explore the reaches of the cosmos. The Juno mission may well change our concept of our solar system and will almost certainly change what we know about Jupiter. But Juno’s trip is not the first time we’ve been to Jupiter.
Ahead of His Time
Stanley Kubrick went to Jupiter first. It’s true, although in a fictional sense. In his sprawling space epic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, master director Kubrick took filmgoers on a celestial sleigh ride to the planet. The film not only foretold Juno’s trip, but also managed to foresee inventions like the iPad and many other technological advances – way back in 1968.
Kubrick took audiences to Jupiter 48 years before Juno.
2001: A Space Odyssey sling-shotted viewers from man’s apelike beginnings to a future four million years later, all within the space of one glorious jump cut, which has been called “the longest flash forward in film history.” It also gave us a peek into the future. While the film may have not accurately predicted such advances as civilian space travel, manned lunar bases, and alien contact, the iPad and Juno are perfect examples of how the film impacted our future. Much of what the film predicted has become a reality.
Technology 2001: A Space Odyssey Predicted
Astronauts in the film use tablet computing devices to reconnect with humanity in the dead of space.
Flat-screens From computer monitors to televisions, flat-screens have replaced ancient CRT systems, giving viewers better resolution and more screen space.
Voice Identification Systems/Voice-controlled Computers The Dragon voice recognition system and Apple’s Siri are just a few examples of voice recognition computer systems that allow you to control your computer using your voice. Voice identification systems are used for security.
Video Teleconference & Telecommuting You can meet anyone now on your own terms (and, in most cases, without ever leaving your home).
Tablet Computing The iPad, like the iPhone caused tech manufacturers to re-think what consumers wanted in their electronic devices. Tablet computers offer compact computing solutions.
Game-Playing Computers IBM’s Jeopardy-dominating Watson wasn’t the first computer to show humans how inferior we were.
In-flight Entertainment Throughout 2001: A Space Odyssey, technology demonstrates how it can improve and entertain man.
2001′s still-incredible special effects were overseen by industry wizard Douglas Trumbull, two NASA aerospace engineers and some 35 designers.
In the final analysis, much (if not most) of the technology predicted by 2001 has become fact. It’s interesting to note that Kubrick, whose films are often called “cold” and “inhuman,” was trying to reflect a humanistic and even optimistic world view with 2001. And despite his noted perfectionism, Kubrick was showing at least some flexibility the film; for example, when he learned that his team of designers couldn’t realistically depict the fabled rings of Saturn, Kubrick immediately redirected his mission to Jupiter instead. If only NASA could do that.
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