NASA will extend its Juno Jupiter mission by three years. The Juno spacecraft was initially intended to crash into the planet next month. This plan no longer holds, and NASA will allow the spacecraft to orbit Jupiter three more years to enable the probe to meet its goal.
Juno’s Principle investigator from the South West Research Institute, Scott Bolton, revealed in an email that the orbits are longer than expected and that is why the spacecraft needs more time to collect planned scientific measurements.
Juno launched from Earth in 2011; the spacecraft landed on Jupiter on July 4, 2016. The spacecraft has collected valuable data and has relayed important information back to Earth. The probe made exciting revelations about Jupiter’s red spot. Juno revealed that not only is the Red Spot wider than the diameter of the Earth, it is also 320 km deep. The spacecraft first passed the Red Spot in the summer of 2017, and the spacecraft’s microwave radiometer made these revelations.
Juno also allowed scientists to have a three-dimensional view of the planet. The space probe designed to measure Jupiter’s magnetic field and polar magnetosphere. The space probe also will enable scientists to look beyond the giant gas’ clouds. This feature has made it possible for the space probe to study Jupiter’s mass distribution and gravity field.
The Juno mission has also debunked false theories about Jupiter’s Aurora. Jupiter’s Aurora is the largest aurora in the solar system. Even though the display is significant, we do not know much about it. Most of the theories that scientists formulated were based on remote observations. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope was one of the prominent sources of this theories.
However, a closer look at the auroral display by kind courtesy of Juno spacecraft has made scientists see things differently. The study revealed that the Aurora on Jupiter is different from the one on Earth. In the sense that Auroral display on Jupiter is provoked by electrons trapped in the giant gases magnetic field.
NASA planned that an energy burn would shorten the length of a 53-day orbit to 14 days. This extension will allow the spacecraft to fly around Jupiter a lot more times to facilitate the collection of data. However, the energy burn did not happen, and this has reduced the number of times the satellite has gone around the planet.
NASA is yet to make an announcement officially; the agency will release additional information after the announcement.