Juno spacecraft Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI
NASA Juno mission to Jupiter successfully executed a 10.5-hour propulsive maneuver on October 1st, to avoid its shadow on November 3rd. It is one of the longest-ever
Juno spacecraft takes the longest ever maneuver of 10.5 hours avoiding its end of the mission: NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter successfully executed a 10.5-hour propulsive maneuver on October 1st, to avoid its shadow on November 3rd. It is one of the longest-ever propulsive maneuvers in its race against the sun from its launch in the year 2011.
With its longest maneuver, it just completed it would not spend more than 12 hours in Jupiter shadow, which would have drained its solar-powered batteries, thus ending its mission.
Juno spacecraft launched in 2011, traveled more than 2 billion miles to Jupiter, and entered a highly elliptical 53-day polar orbit around it in July 2016. The much expected Juno’s 14 days science orbit a few months later was aborted to a technical snag.
Hence it remained in its 53-day orbit and would fly out more than a million miles from the Jupiter on each circuit. Then it will sweep into it within 3000 miles or 5000 kilometers from Jupiter’s cloud tops. In this way, it was conducting scientific research and advancing the knowledge about the solar system’s fifth and most massive planet.
Recently the space scientists at NASA found that in the next close flyby of the Jupiter on November 3rd, 2019, Juno would be flying through Jupiter’s shadow for more than 12 hours. The effect of it in the shadows would have drained its solar-powered batteries and could have brought the end of the Juno mission.
But with its recent 10.5 maneuvers, it will jump the shadow on November 3rd. Hence it will continue to research Jupiter and increase the knowledge of NASA with its findings.
Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, is elated with the success of Juno spacecraft continuing. Also, Ed Hirst, Juno’s project manager at JPL or Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, congratulated his team and also of the extraordinary capability and versatility of Juno.
By jumping the shadow with the longest maneuver, Juno spacecraft has not only created history but also survived another day for future Jupiter research.