According to the inside sources of the NASA’s JUNO mission, the space shuttle that has been exploring Jupiter since 5 July,2015 is most likely to get an extension for three years.
Fir the past two years, the spacecraft has been greatly helpful for scientists in understanding the conditions of the planet. JUNO has sent some terrific data of the planet’s elusive core and huge storms and cloud bands.
The research team planned the destruction of this shuttle sometimes after this July by crashing it into the clouds of the giant planet. But in order to keep the icy moon of the planet safe from any earthly microbes, the team decided to end the mission in a planned manner. Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon is considered fit to sustain life as the moon’s ocean holds two times more water than Earth.
But now, since the demise of the spacecraft has been moved forward to minimum three years most probably to July 2021, the scientific research works on the mission will be carried out till September 2022. This extension might give JUNO ample time to map the huge gas planet with few close passes which are known as perjioves. The probe constructs the map bit by bit by the implementation of different tools.
Another major reason for the extension of this mission lies in the safety of the probe. Earlier in July 2016, during the start of the mission, the team planned to circle Jupiter once every 53.5 days. But in October, 2016, the team decided to speed up the velocity of the probe to once every 14 days in order to complete the 32 perijoves, JUNO needs for the complete mapping of Jupiter.
But soon the scientists discovered that being too close to the planet’s radiation has affected the engines of the probe. So, the team decided to protect the probe from further harm and keep it safe and delayed the pace of mapping to nearly four times. Owing to the delayed perijoves, the probe will be able to complete only 14 perijoves out of the needed 32 for full mapping by July,2018.
This extension might turn out to be very useful for the researchers to attain a deep knowledge about the gaint gassy planet’s gravitational fields and uncover the mystery of the colossal planet.
If the probe stays fit and functional even after July,2021, chances are that NASA might again decide to keep the mission alive even beyond the extended period for further analysis of Jupiter.