Whereas Juno has to date centered its consideration on the large planet alone, the mission extension will embody observations of Jupiter’s rings and huge moons, with focused observations and shut flybys deliberate of the moons Ganymede, Europa, and Io.
This would be the first shut flybys of those moons because the Galileo mission in 1995-2003.
“One of many thrilling issues concerning the mission [extension],” mentioned Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator, talking in September 2020 at a gathering of NASA’s Outer Planets Advisory Group, “is we’re going to go and go to the satellites and the rings. It actually turns into a full system explorer, not as centered because the prime mission was, so it feeds probably a extra numerous neighborhood as a result of the satellite tv for pc geologists, the ring individuals will all get knowledge that I believe could be very attention-grabbing and distinctive.”
Juno has made discoveries about Jupiter’s inside construction, magnetic subject, and magnetosphere, and has discovered its atmospheric dynamics to be much more complicated than scientists beforehand thought. The digicam on board, the JunoCam, has offered gorgeous views of the gasoline large world. House imaging fanatics are anticipating that JunoCam views of the Galilean moons needs to be nothing in need of spectacular. Juno did take long-range photographs of the moon Ganymede in 2020.
Juno arrived at Jupiter in July of 2016, and initially, the projected finish of the mission was February of 2018, due to how shut the spacecraft was going to be to Jupiter and its radiation-laden atmosphere. The cruel “working circumstances” have been anticipated to finally make the spacecraft inoperable.
However the mission plan was modified when issues arose with the spacecraft’s most important engine shortly after Juno’s arrival at Jupiter. Initially, the spacecraft was going to have a close-in 14-day orbit across the planet. However in late 2016, mission managers elected to not carry out a remaining rocket burn for that orbit due to uncertainty of the engine’s reliability.
As a substitute, a revised plan put Juno in a 53-day orbit. This meant the whole mission operated at a slower scientific tempo. Nevertheless, Bolton mentioned that slower tempo has been a “saving grace,” Juno has been uncovered to much less extreme radiation, permitting the mission to function longer than initially deliberate.
“I believe the lesson is that we have been versatile, and that’s good in missions,” Bolton mentioned in September. “So whenever you’re designing a mission, attempt to be versatile since you don’t know what curveball you’re going to get thrown.”NASA additionally prolonged the InSight mission at Mars for 2 extra years, operating by means of December 2022. InSight’s spacecraft and group deployed and operated its extremely delicate seismometer, measuring Marsquakes and accumulating knowledge on sturdy tectonic exercise on the Crimson Planet, in addition to enhancing our information of the planet’s atmospheric dynamics, magnetic subject, and inside construction.
An unbiased assessment panel really helpful the 2 mission extensions to NASA.
“The Senior Assessment has validated that these two planetary science missions are prone to proceed to convey new discoveries, and produce new questions on our photo voltaic system,” mentioned Lori Glaze, director of the planetary science division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “I thank the members of the Senior Assessment panel for his or her complete evaluation and thank the mission groups as effectively, who will now proceed to supply thrilling alternatives to refine our understanding of the dynamic science of Jupiter and Mars.”
NASA says that prolonged missions leverage the massive investments in these missions, permitting continued science operations at a price far decrease than creating a brand new mission. “In some circumstances, the extensions permit missions to proceed to accumulate invaluable long-duration datasets, whereas in different circumstances, they permit missions to go to new targets, with solely new science targets,” NASA mentioned in a press launch.
Lead picture caption: Citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill created this picture utilizing knowledge from the spacecraft’s JunoCam imager. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Kevin Gill.