NASA extends Juno, makes spacecraft IO, Europa and Ganymede explorers

When JunoCam received this image on February 2, 2017, NASA's Juno spacecraft flew directly over Jupiter's South Pole.
Zoom in / When JunoCam received this image on February 2, 2017, NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew directly over Jupiter’s South Pole.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / SRRI / MSSS / John Landino

NASA has announced that it will expand the targets of its two interplanetary explorers over the past decade – launching an old spacecraft orbiting Jupiter and Insight Lander on the surface of Mars.

The old extension means the spacecraft will now operate in the Jovian system until 2025. This will effectively transform the spacecraft into a full-fledged Jovian System Explorer with a mission to study Jupiter, complete with Jupiter’s many moon-filled flybies and its rings system.

Behind the internal solar system on the surface of Mars, the Insight mission will now run during December 2022. During these additional two years, the lander will continue to operate its seismometer to identify Mars, as well as continue to collect detailed information about the weather. On the surface.

After determining that both missions had performed exceptionally well to date, an independent review panel recommended the expansion of both at NASA. “Senior review has recognized that these two planetary science missions are likely to bring new satisfaction and raise new questions about our solar system,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Department of Planetary Science at NASA’s headquarters in Washington.

Excited about Juno

For us, the extended old mission is the most tedious. After its unveiling in 2011, Juno entered a polar orbit around Jupiter in July, 2016. Since then, he has completed more than 30 orbits around the largest planet in the Solar System, studying Jupiter’s formation and magnetic field. It has also survived exceptionally harsh radiation environments.

The expansion suggests that scientists and engineers believe the spacecraft is healthy enough to continue working and that it could double the number of orbits in the Jupiter system. Over the next five years, the spacecraft will adjust its orbit as it tries to fly closer to some of Jupiter’s most interesting moons.

As part of a research project presented by Juno’s chief investigator, Scott Bolton, the spacecraft will move within 320 kilometers of Europa by the end of 2022 and within 1,500 kilometers of twice-volcanically active ion within 1,000 kilometers of Ganymede’s surface this summer. 2024.

With this flyby, Juno will be able to study surface changes on Ganymede from Voyager and Galileo missions and investigate the 3-D formation of Ganymede’s magnets et spheres. Coming so close to Europe, Juno should be able to identify areas where the lunar ice shell is thick or thin and confirm the presence of Earth’s liquid water. In creating multiple flyovers near Ioan, Juno will observe short-term changes in volcanic activity, which developed dramatically between Voyager and Galileo over the months.

Extended missions actually cost a fraction of the cost of building and launching most interplanetary spacecraft – often over billion 1 billion – so it’s like a bonus for solar system research.