NASA’s Juno Mission Expands Into the Future – To Explore Jupiter and Its Rings and Moons

Juno Spacecraft in Orbit Around Jupiter

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An artist’s principle of the Juno spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter. Credit: NASA

The spacecraft, which has actually been collecting information on the gas giant because July 2016, will end up being an explorer of the complete Jovian system – Jupiter and its rings and moons.

NASA has actually licensed an objective extension for its Juno spacecraft checking out Jupiter. The company’s most far-off planetary orbiter will now continue its examination of the planetary system’s biggest world through September 2025, or till the spacecraft’s end of life. This growth jobs Juno with ending up being an explorer of the complete Jovian system – Jupiter and its rings and moons – with several rendezvous prepared for 3 of Jupiter’s most interesting Galilean moons: Ganymede, Europa, and Io.

“Since its first orbit in 2016, Juno has delivered one revelation after another about the inner workings of this massive gas giant,” stated primary private investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “With the extended mission, we will answer fundamental questions that arose during Juno’s prime mission while reaching beyond the planet to explore Jupiter’s ring system and Galilean satellites.”

Jupiter Storms Merging

This view of Jupiter’s environment from NASA’s Juno spacecraft consists of something amazing, 2 storms captured in the act of combining.
Credit: Image information: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSSImage processing by Tanya Oleksuik, © CC BY

Proposed in 2003 and introduced in 2011, Juno came to Jupiter on July 4, 2016. The prime objective will be finished in July 2021. The extended objective includes 42 extra orbits, consisting of close passes of Jupiter’s north polar cyclones; flybys of Ganymede, Europa, and Io; in addition to the very first comprehensive expedition of the faint rings surrounding the world.

“By extending the science goals of this important orbiting observatory, the Juno team will start tackling a breadth of science historically required of flagships,” stated Lori Glaze, planetary science department director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This represents an efficient and innovative advance for NASA’s solar system exploration strategy.”

The information Juno gathers will add to the objectives of the next generation of objectives to the Jovian system – NASA’s Europa Clipper and the ESA (European Space Agency) JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) objective. Juno’s examination of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io addresses numerous science objectives determined by the National Academy of Sciences for a future Io explorer objective.

Juno's Mission Goes On

NASA has actually extended the objective of its Juno spacecraft checking out Jupiter. The extended objective includes 42 extra orbits. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI

The extended objective’s science projects will broaden on discoveries Juno has actually currently made about Jupiter’s interior structure, internal electromagnetic field, environment (consisting of polar cyclones, deep environment, and aurora), and magnetosphere.

“With this extension, Juno becomes its own follow-on mission,” stated Steve Levin, Juno job researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Close-up observations of the pole, radio occultations” – a remote noticing method to determine residential or commercial properties of a planetary environment or ring systems – “satellite flybys, and focused magnetic field studies combine to make a new mission, the next logical step in our exploration of the Jovian system.”

Jupiter’s enigmatic Great Blue Spot, a separated spot of extreme electromagnetic field near the world’s equator, will be the target of a high-spatial-resolution magnetic study throughout 6 flybys early in the prolonged objective. As Juno’s orbit develops, several flybys of the moons Ganymede (2), Europa (3), and Io (11) are prepared, in addition to several passages through Jupiter’s rare rings.

Juno will likewise fly through the Europa and Io tori – ring-shaped clouds of ions – on several celebrations, identifying the radiation environment near these satellites to much better prepare the Europa Clipper and JUICE objectives for enhancing observation techniques and preparation, science top priorities, and objective style. The extended objective likewise includes planetary geology and ring characteristics to Juno’s comprehensive list of science examinations.

An Evolving Orbit

The natural development of Juno’s orbit around the gas giant offers the wealth of brand-new science chances that the extended objective take advantage of. Every science pass sends out the solar-powered spacecraft zooming low over Jupiter’s cloud tops, gathering information from a unique perspective no other spacecraft has actually taken pleasure in.

The point throughout each orbit where Juno comes closest to the world is called perijove (or PJ). Over the course of the objective, Juno’s perijoves have actually moved northward, drastically enhancing resolution over the northern hemisphere. The style of the prolonged objective makes the most of the continued northward migration of these perijoves to hone its view of the several cyclones surrounding the north pole while including ring and Galilean moon flybys.

“The mission designers have done an amazing job crafting an extended mission that conserves the mission’s single most valuable onboard resource – fuel,” stated Ed Hirst, the Juno job supervisor at JPL. “Gravity assists from multiple satellite flybys steer our spacecraft through the Jovian system while providing a wealth of science opportunities.” The satellite flybys likewise decrease Juno’s orbital duration, which increases the overall variety of science orbits that can be acquired.”

The satellite encounters start with a low-altitude flyby of Ganymede on June 7, 2021 (PJ34), which decreases the orbital duration from about 53 days to 43 days. That flyby establishes a close flyby of Europa on Sept. 29, 2022 (PJ45), lowering the orbital duration even more to 38 days. A set of close Io flybys, on Dec. 30, 2023 (PJ57), and Feb. 3, 2024 (PJ58), integrate to decrease the orbital duration to 33 days.

More About the Mission

JPL, a department of Caltech in Pasadena, California, handles the Juno objective for the primary private investigator, Scott J. Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno belongs to NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is handled at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the company’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver constructed and runs the spacecraft.

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