“It is important to note that the orbital period does not affect the quality of the science that takes place during one of Juno’s close flybys of Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
The US-based space agency, NASA on Saturday announced that the plan to put Juno closer to Jupiter has been postponed. The upcoming burn of its main rocket motor has now been delayed till December, which was designed to put the spacecraft closer to the largest planet in our solar system.
The burn was orignally scheduled for October 19, called the period reduction manoeuvre (PRM), was to reduce Juno’s orbital period around Jupiter from 53.4 to 14 days.
“Telemetry indicates that two helium check valves that play an important role in the firing of the spacecraft’s main engine did not operate as expected during a command sequence that was initiated yesterday,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “The valves should have opened in a few seconds, but it took several minutes. We need to better understand this issue before moving forward with a burn of the main engine.”
As of now, Juno takes 53.5 days to complete its one elongated orbit around Jupiter. The mission is planned such that the spacecraft has to complete its one round around the planet by 27th of August at 2,600 miles above the planet. Juno mission’s entire cost is over $1.1 billion.
The next opportunity for the burn would be during its close flyby of Jupiter on December 11, Nasa said. Mission designers had originally planned to limit the number of science instruments on during Juno’s Oct. 19 close flyby of Jupiter. Now, with the period reduction maneuver postponed, all of the spacecraft’s science instruments will be gathering data during the upcoming flyby.
“It is important to note that the orbital period does not affect the quality of the science that takes place during one of Juno’s close flybys of Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The mission is very flexible that way. The data we collected during our first flyby on August 27th was a revelation, and I fully anticipate a similar result from Juno’s October 19th flyby.”
It has been over five years when NASA launched the Juno probe on 05 August 2011. The spacecraft reached the Jupiter planet on July 04 this year with an aim of exploring the largest planet of our solar system.
First mission to Jupiter was conducted 45 years ago and since then seven mission have been started to explore the largest planet of our solar system. Juno is the best possible attempt by the scientists to explore the planet and gather necessary information. In addition, Juno is only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. Galileo was the first probe to orbit the planet from 1995 to 2003.
Juno is a solar powered spacecraft with the primary aim of searching for clues about how the planet formed, including whether it has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere,mass distribution, and its deep winds, which can reach speeds of 618 kilometers per hour.