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Lightning in the Jovian Clouds

8 Jun 2018, 16:14 UTC
Lightning in the Jovian Clouds
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The longer we can keep a mission going in an exotic place, the better. Sometimes longevity is its own reward, as Curiosity has just reminded us on Mars. After all, it was only because the rover has been in place for six years that it was able to observe what scientists now think are seasonal variations in the methane in Mars’ atmosphere. Thus the news that Juno will remain active in Jupiter space is heartening, and in this case necessary. The mission is now to operate until July of 2021, an additional 41 months in orbit having been approved. More time on station allows Juno to complete a primary science mission that had appeared in jeopardy.
The reason: Problems with helium valves in the spacecraft’s fuel system resulted in the decision to remain in the present 53-day orbit instead of the 14-day ‘science orbit’ originally planned, and that has extended the time needed for data collection. Thus the lengthening of operations there not only allows further time for discovery but essentially enables the spacecraft to achieve its original science objectives. NASA has now funded Juno through FY 2022, allowing for the end of prime operations in 2021 and data collection ...

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