NASA extends the life of the Juno probe

Almost two years after its placement into orbit around Jupiter, the Juno probe continues to explore the Jovian system and to photograph the giant planet and the many details that dot its surface. It completed its twelfth scientific orbit in May 2018 and will start the thirteenth in July.

The Juno probe had to complete 36 complete revolutions around Jupiter and complete its missions in February 2018. But a motor problem forced the engineers to leave it in an elliptical orbit of 53 days; the one initially planned, more circular, was to last only 14 days.

In this “b” configuration, Juno gets closer to Jupiter but less often than expected. In an attempt to collect as much data as possible, NASA announced early in 2018 that the probe would extend its stay until the end of 2018. As is often the case, and in view of the good resistance of the instruments of the probe, the space agency has extended this deadline to July 2021.

With its elliptical orbit, Juno passes once every 53 days less than 5000 km from the clouds of the upper atmosphere of Jupiter. Credit: Nasa, JPL / Caltech.

Juno will stay around Jupiter 41 months longer than the planned duration. This will allow the spacecraft to carry out its scientific program and even learn a little more than expected. By staying in its elliptical orbit, the probe can effectively observe the confines of the Jovian magnetosphere and measure the effects of the interaction between the solar wind and this protective bubble.

Since its arrival, Juno has confirmed the weakening of the great red spot and its likely disappearance in a few decades. It also revealed the existence of huge thunderstorms at the poles of the planet and delivered hundreds of images of the gas giant.

Shakes Gilles

Editor of The Talking Democrat. He enjoys bike riding, kayaking and playing soccer. On a slow weekend, you'll find him with a book by the lake.