NASA's Jupiter-circling spacecraft stuck making long laps

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA's Jupiter-circling spacecraft is stuck making long laps around the gas giant because of sticky valves.

It currently takes Juno 53 days to fly around the solar system's biggest planet. That's almost four times longer than the intended 14-day orbit.

After repeated delays, NASA decided late last week to scrap an engine firing that would have shortened the orbit. Officials said the maneuver is too risky because of the valve problem.

Only the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, Juno has been circling the planet since July.

NASA said the quality of science won't be affected and stressed that stunning pictures of Jupiter will keep coming this way. But it will take more time to gather the data, given Juno's longer loops. The mission will have to be extended at tens of millions of extra dollars if scientists are to collect everything under the original plan. It's already a billion-dollar mission.

On the plus side, according to scientists, Juno now will spend less time in Jupiter's abrasive radiation belts.

"The decision to forego the burn is the right thing to do — preserving a valuable asset so that Juno can continue its exciting journey of discovery," NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen, the science mission associate administrator, said in a statement. He added that the pictures from Juno "are nothing short of amazing."

Juno is able to peer through Jupiter's clouds to see what's going on in the atmosphere. Scientists want to better understand how the planet — the fifth from our sun, with at least 67 moons— originated and evolved.

Every orbit, Juno swoops within 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) of Jupiter's cloud tops. The most recently completed orbit was three weeks ago; the next close flyby will come at the end of March.

Whenever Juno's mission does end, the spacecraft will end up diving into Jupiter's atmosphere and burning up, meteor-style. It was launched in 2011 from Cape Canaveral.

___

Online:

NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html

Related News

Peter the Great bust unveiled in French academy of sciences

Oct 5, 2017

Russia has donated a statue of Peter the Great to the French Academy of Sciences to mark 300 years since the Russian czar visited Paris in a pivotal moment in his crusade to open his country toward the West

AP Interview: US hails UN plan to monitor fentanyl market

Mar 14, 2017

The chief U.S. State Department counter-narcotics official is hailing a pending U.N. move to control substances used to make a deadly synthetic drug, but acknowledges it will not put an immediate dent in illegal trafficking of the chemicals

Poll: Americans favor slightly higher bills to fight warming

Sep 14, 2016

Most Americans are willing to pay a little more each month to fight global warming, but only a tiny bit, according to a new poll

You may also like these

Peter the Great bust unveiled in French academy of sciences

Oct 5, 2017

Russia has donated a statue of Peter the Great to the French Academy of Sciences to mark 300 years since the Russian czar visited Paris in a pivotal moment in his crusade to open his country toward the West

AP Interview: US hails UN plan to monitor fentanyl market

Mar 14, 2017

The chief U.S. State Department counter-narcotics official is hailing a pending U.N. move to control substances used to make a deadly synthetic drug, but acknowledges it will not put an immediate dent in illegal trafficking of the chemicals

Poll: Americans favor slightly higher bills to fight warming

Sep 14, 2016

Most Americans are willing to pay a little more each month to fight global warming, but only a tiny bit, according to a new poll

Search

Recent Discovery will take you to the captivating developments in science, technology, and the universe around us. We deliver to you the latest news, theories, and developments in the world of science.

Contact us: sales@recentdiscovery.com

Trending News

ScienceAgricultural ScienceArchaeologyAstronomy Press