Scientific Research

NASA's Juno spacecraft to remain in extra-long orbit for the rest of its time at Jupiter

NASA's Juno spacecraft to remain in extra-long orbit for the rest of its time at Jupiter

The team behind NASA’s Juno spacecraft has made a key change to its operating plan. For the remainder of its primary planned mission, the satellite will continue to circle Jupiter in its long 53-day orbits instead of transitioning to shorter 14-day cycles.

The decision, made in response to some technical difficulties with the plumbing for the spacecraft’s main engine, cuts down the number of science orbits Juno can make from about 32 to 12. But in many ways the change might actually allow for better science, mission team members said.

“Sometimes you make lemonade when you have lemons —  or when you appear to have lemons,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager at...

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