NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this picture of Jupiter shortly after finishing its 12th shut flyby of the planet on April 1, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstad/Sean Doran
NASA’s Juno spacecraft will proceed learning Jupiter for an additional three years.
The $1.1 billion Juno mission has been prolonged via a minimum of July 2021, NASA officers introduced yesterday (June 6). The company will fund Juno into 2022, to cowl the price of information evaluation and close-out actions.
“With these funds, not solely can the Juno group proceed to reply long-standing questions on Jupiter that first fueled this thrilling mission, however they will additionally examine new scientific puzzles motivated by their discoveries to this point,” Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., stated in an announcement. “With each further orbit, each scientists and citizen scientists will assist unveil new surprises about this distant world.” [In Photos: Juno’s Amazing Views of Jupiter]
Juno launched in August 2011 and arrived in orbit across the photo voltaic system’s largest planet on July four, 2016. The spacecraft is learning Jupiter’s gravitational and magnetic fields in addition to its thick ambiance, gathering information that ought to reveal key insights about how the gasoline big fashioned and developed.
Juno makes most of its observations throughout its closest approaches to Jupiter, which happen as soon as each 53 days. Juno’s remaining science orbit was purported to be a lot much less elliptical, with shut flybys happening each 14 days, however a problem with a thruster valve nixed that plan.
The mission extension is an acknowledgement of this new actuality — that Juno will want extra time to do its work on this longer orbit. (Prime science operations have been initially scheduled to wrap up by February 2018, and a newer goal date was July of this 12 months.)
“This is nice information for planetary exploration in addition to for the Juno group,” Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton, from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, stated in the same statement.
“These up to date plans for Juno will enable it to finish its main science objectives,” he added. “As a bonus, the bigger orbits enable us to additional discover the far reaches of the Jovian magnetosphere — the area of house dominated by Jupiter’s magnetic discipline — together with the far magnetotail, the southern magnetosphere, and the magnetospheric boundary area known as the magnetopause. We have additionally discovered Jupiter’s radiation setting on this orbit to be much less excessive than anticipated, which has been useful to not solely our spacecraft, however our devices and the continued high quality of science information collected.”
Juno and its science devices stay in good well being, NASA officers stated. The extension comes after an April report by an unbiased evaluation panel that discovered the mission stays on monitor to perform its principal science objectives.
When Juno’s work is finished, the probe shall be de-orbited deliberately into Jupiter’s thick ambiance, to make sure that the spacecraft would not contaminate the doubtless life-supporting Jovian moon Europa with microbes from Earth. NASA’s Cassini Saturn orbiter ended its mission with the identical form of dying dive final September.