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Juno to Refine Orbit in Jupiter, Short Trajectory Maneuver Expected

Jul 12, 2016 12:52 AM EDT
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Juno is doing well as expected, but few changes had to be done to enable the spacecraft to conduct its mission on Jupiter.

NASA scheduled a trajectory correction maneuver on July 13 to refine Juno's orbit on the gas planet. Juno entered orbit on July 4, without a glitch, after a complex 35-minute engine burn that slowed down its speed to enable Jupiter's gravity to capture the spacecraft.

Recent reports say that NASA scientists started powering up the scientific equipment aboard Juno to prepare it for data gathering. The engineers are working 24/7 to get Juno in full operations mode that will orbit the giant gas planet 37 times in a span of 2 years.

"We are in our planned 53.4 day orbit. Now we are focusing on preparing for our fourth and final main engine burn, which will put us in our 14-day science orbit on October 19," Rick Nybakken, project manager for Juno said in a statement. However, NASA also said some of its instruments will only be powered by end of the month as per schedule.

The team behind Juno is elated that the solar-powered spacecraft managed to perform the 35-minute engine burn, a sensitive maneuver to insert orbit. Juno was also built to withstand harsh radiation on Jupiter as powerful as 100 million dental X-rays. But engineers who built Juno are confident that the "tank-like" properties of the spacecraft will protect the instruments aboard Juno.

Juno is expected to provide data about the planet in a flyby on August 27. "But next time around we will have our eyes and ears open. You can expect us to release some information about our findings around September 1," Scott Bolton, Juno team lead said in a statement.

Juno was launched in 2011 and reached its destination planet after a five-year journey relying on its solar-powered systems. Juno is also the world's fastest spacecraft ever built and is scheduled to burn itself in space after the Juno mission is completed.

 

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