NASA approves mission extension for Juno

NASA on June 7, 2018 approved an extension of Juno’s science operations until July 2021. This provides the space probe with an additional 41 months in orbit around Jupiter. The decision was taken after an independent panel of experts confirmed in April that Juno is on track to achieve its science objectives and is already returning spectacular results. The spacecraft and all its instruments were reported to be in good health and operating nominally.

The larger orbits will also allow the scientists to further explore the far reaches of the Jovian magnetosphere, the region of space dominated by Jupiter’s magnetic field including the far magnetotail, the southern magnetosphere and the magnetospheric boundary region called the magnetopause.

Key Highlights:-
1. NASA has now funded Juno through FY 2022. The spacecraft was supposed to end its mission by crashing into Jupiter’s atmosphere in July this year.
2. The longer orbit means that it will take more time to collect the needed science data.
3. The end of prime operations is now expected to be in July 2021, with data analysis and mission close-out activities continuing into 2022.
4. The spacecraft is in 53-day orbits rather than 14-day orbits as initially planned because of a concern about valves on the spacecraft’s fuel system.
5. Juno will make its 13th science flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops on July 16.

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