Tags: nasa | juno mission | plunge | jupiter

NASA Juno Mission Saved From Death Plunge for Now

NASA Juno Mission Saved From Death Plunge for Now
(NASA)

By    |   Thursday, 07 June 2018 07:54 AM

NASA’s Juno mission has been saved from its death plunge into the surface of Jupiter – for now – as the space agency extended the probe's expedition through at least 2021 so it can continue to orbit and map the solar system's largest planet.

NASA's Cassini probe did a nose-dive into Saturn's atmosphere last year after mapping and returning spectacular pictures from the ringed planet, including man's first views of the Saturday's north and south poles.

Juno has been returning stunning close-up pictures of Jupiter since the probe first arrived at the doorstep of the gassy planet on July 4, 2016, Gizmodo reported.

Juno has been mapping Jupiter "slice-by-slice" as it orbited and recording data on Jupiter's powerful gravitational field, the Business Insider reported, but because of unexpected problems with Juno's propulsion system, the spaceship had made only 14 of 32 planned close passes to the planet.

"NASA has approved Juno to continue through 2022 to finish all of our originally planned science," Scott Bolton, Juno's principle investigator from the Southwest Research Institute, told Gizmodo. "The orbits are longer than planned, and that is why Juno needs more time to gather our planned scientific measurements."

The new plan gives Juno an additional 41 months to orbit Jupiter since it is currently completing 53-day orbits rather than the planned 14-day orbits, NASA said.

"This is great news for planetary exploration as well as for the Juno team," Bolton said. "These updated plans for Juno will allow it to complete its primary science goals.

"As a bonus, the larger orbits allow us to further explore the far reaches of the Jovian magnetosphere – the region of space dominated by Jupiter's magnetic field – including the far magnetotail, the southern magnetosphere, and the magnetospheric boundary region called the magnetopause," Bolton added.

One surprise scientists have found in Juno's expedition is that Jupiter's radiation environment at Juno's current orbit was less extreme than expected, which "has been beneficial to not only our spacecraft, but our instruments and the continued quality of science data collected," Bolton said.

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NASA’s Juno mission has been saved from its death plunge into the surface of Jupiter – for now – as the space agency extended the probe's expedition through at least 2021 so it can continue to orbit and map the solar system's largest planet.
nasa, juno mission, plunge, jupiter
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2018-54-07
Thursday, 07 June 2018 07:54 AM
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