The Juno spacecraft passes in front of Jupiter in this artist's depiction.

The Juno spacecraft passes in front of Jupiter in this artist’s depiction.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A NASA spacecraft bound for Jupiter will buzz Earth Wednesday (Oct. 9) to snag a gravity speed boost that will slingshot it toward the largest planet in the solar system.

The Juno spacecraft will be within 350 miles (560 kilometers) of Earth when it zooms by our planet at 3:21 p.m. EDT (1921 GMT). It will be passing over South Africa during its closest approach to Earth.

Since its 2011 launch on an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket, NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter has followed a circuitous route toward Jupiter. This pass around Earth will give it the boost it needs to make it the rest of the way to the solar system’s largest planet, accelerating the spacecraft from its current speed —78,000 mph (126,000 km/h) with respect to the sun — to a speed of 87,000 mph (140,000 km/h).

via Jupiter-Bound NASA Probe to Grab Speed Boost from Earth Flyby Wednesday | Space.com.