On this day in 2016, NASA launched the Juno space probe, a twenty-month survey of the mysterious fifth planet in our solar system. The name was appropriately chosen in honor of the Roman goddess, Juno, wife of Jupiter and mother of Mars, the god of war. She is associated with may roles, including protection, pulling back the veil, and childbirth.
To mark this day, an imagined conversation.
JUNO to JUPITER
What formed you, anyway? All these years, you’ve never mentioned it. Do you even have a solid center, or are you all atmosphere and wind, gravity and radiation? You’ve drawn these clouds around you, hiding, but I see you, Jove.
They know you for your sky, your thunder, your place on the throne, but I’m not here for any of that. I want to know what you’ve got hiding under those blankets of clouds, and about your waters. Can they be breathed, and what moves you?
It’s taken me years to reach you. Eons before I left, I would wonder, watching, hearing tales of your thundering greatness. But I have to say, from a distance, you looked so small.
I am flying over you now. They warned me of your belts, threatening radiation, how you will blind me with them if I stay. That great red spot of yours, now like an eye, then a mouth. How easy to mistake that for a center, when it’s just your most dramatic atmospheric spectacle, nothing but a war of opposing winds,
a stage play for the battles that so impressed our son. I have to tell you, he has really gotten carried away. It’s all he can do, even when he calls it by another name––peace, containment, deterrence. Can you do something? Show him, it’s only a distraction, a relatively recent storm, a blemish on your surface and not the polestar of your magnitude.
Again with the thunder? Well, don’t say I didn’t tell you. Besides, they say it’s shrinking.
I’ve got to go soon. Before I do, I will take in your atmosphere, your magnetic field. You will cover me in dust again, answering as you always do, with nothing but weather and wind.