ST. CLOUD - A solar-powered spacecraft is circling Jupiter on a mission to map the huge planet and explore its gravity and magnetic fields.

Several St. Cloud State students and professors are watching the Juno spacecraft mission closely, due to their involvement with a local project that involves studying Jupiter via radio signals.

Todd Vaccaro is an assistant professor of physics at SCSU, he says some of his students have taken part in a project called Radio Jove. The project involves setting up an antenna to intercept electromagnetic rays from Jupiter.

"Students put together a small radio-antenna array which is located just off campus, it allows us to pick up radio signals from Jupiter."

Students will gather data on Jupiter and import it into a NASA database as part of the project. Vaccaro says the Juno mission is exciting because it could provide insights into the largest planet in our solar system.

"One of the big questions, since you can only see [Jupiter's] cloud tops, is if there is some sort of solid core beneath the surface. Hopefully the gravity data will tell us something about that."

Juno will spend 20 months circling Jupiter's poles. The trip took nearly five years and 1.8 billion miles.

The mission cost around $1.1 billion.

-This story was written with information from the Associated Press-