NASA’s Juno Engine Malfunction Causes Spacecraft To Remain In OrbitBy Jessica Bell, UniversityHerald Reporter
NASA is confident that the Juno space craft that is currently in orbit will stay on course for another 53 days. Following an engine malfunction back in October 2016, the space craft is changing its mission plans.
Juno will now remain in its current orbital period instead of shifting to the planned 14-day orbit. NASA wants Juno to orbit Jupiter up to 37 times come 2018. But given the engine's circumstances, the 53 day orbit can only allow the craft to make 12 orbits by July 2018.
Still, NASA is optimistic that the space craft can make the 12 orbits. If the space agency pushes for it to complete 37 orbits, Juno will then be only able to complete the original mission in 2021, as reported by The Marshall Town. One of the things that makes NASA confident about its decision is because Juno is powered by solar energy.
The use of solar energy can extend the life of the craft and thereby extending its mission. NASA expresses that the quality and information gathered will not be compromised as a result of an extended mission.
Data is being captured by the JunoCam. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Science Mission Directorate associate administrator, says that Juno is healthy and its instruments are functional. The data is described to be nothing short of amazing, as reported by Space Alabama. Behind the scenes, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California have been working on alternatives. When it comes to weighing the risks and benefits, their decision to have Juno remain in current orbit is the right one.
A lot of scientists are looking into the JunoCam's revelations. Previously, people participated by voting what images should be captured on Jupiter during each flyby, as reported by International Business Times.
University experts point out that the radiant glows appearing on Jupiter during one flyby are known as auroras. NASA officials state that each time JunoCam flies by, they learn something new. The spacecraft's next flyby of the planet will take place on March 27, 2017.
Watch NASA's latest flyby of Jupiter via Juno below: