Jupiter's south pole

Citizen-scientist Alex Mai enhanced photos taken by NASA’s Jupiter-visiting Juno spacecraft in 2016 to create this glowing view of Jupiter’s south pole.   


The solar offers life to solar-powered area explorers distant from Earth, so a lack of daylight bodes in poor health. NASA’s Alternative rover died throughout an enormous mud storm on Mars. NASA does not need the identical factor to occur to its Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft.

Juno’s subsequent shut flyby of Jupiter is scheduled for Nov. 3. However there was a hitch: Juno’s trajectory would have plunged the spacecraft into Jupiter’s shadow for 12 lengthy hours. It could have been the dying knell for Juno’s batteries and will have ended the mission prematurely, so NASA needed to act.

The area company commanded Juno to execute an prolonged propulsive maneuver that lasted 10.5 hours, beginning Monday and persevering with into Tuesday. Juno ought to now be capable of “bounce” Jupiter’s shadow on its subsequent flyby and keep away from freezing to dying.

NASA already adjusted its Juno flight plans early within the mission, which is why the shadow difficulty hadn’t initially been anticipated. The Juno group needed to get inventive and name on the spacecraft’s reaction-control thrusters to avoid wasting the mission. If this was a film, we would be listening to sweeping, dramatic music throughout a thruster-firing montage.

“Leaping over the shadow was an amazingly inventive resolution to what appeared like a deadly geometry. Eclipses are usually not pals of solar-powered spacecraft,” stated Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton. “Now as an alternative of worrying about freezing to dying, I’m wanting ahead to the subsequent science discovery that Jupiter has in retailer for Juno.”  

That additionally means our common repair of fabulous Jupiter photos will carry on coming. Hurrah!

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