Meet the joke behind NASA’s Juno mission. While Jupiter’s moons are named after the god’s many mistresses, Juno, the space probe sent to orbit and monitor Jupiter, is named after his wife.

Kepler laid the groundwork for this amazing science joke 400 years ago — and it finally paid off

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Even in the space age, a little knowledge of the classics comes in handy sometimes.

If you’re a fan of Greco-Roman mythology and NASA, you may have noticed that the space probe now orbiting Jupiter has a name with a familiar ring: Juno.

In myth, Jupiter (Zeus for the Greeks) was king of the gods, and Juno/Hera was his queen. Their marriage was a troubled one, mostly because of Jupiter’s rampant infidelity.

When a Renaissance astronomer named Simon Marius claimed that he had discovered that the planet Jupiter had four large moons (we’ve since found several more), he took Johannes Kepler’s suggestion to name them for four of the god’s most famous lovers: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. He said the naming … Continue Reading