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NASA's Juno to Remain in Current Orbit, No Engine Burn to Lessen Orbit to 14 Days

Feb 20, 2017 10:52 AM EST
NASA Holds Briefing On Juno Mission Arrival At Jupiter
Juno will remain in its 53-day orbit for the rest of the mission. An engine burn that will reduce the orbit days to 14 won't be performed to avoid damage to the spacecraft.
(Photo : David McNew/Getty Images)

The team running Juno mission decided to forego of the engine burn that will lessen the spacecraft's orbit to 14 days. The spacecraft will reportedly remain in its current 53-day orbit to avoid any risk or damages to Juno.

The spacecraft has been in orbit since July last year. The spacecraft was supposed to perform an engine burn that will lessen the orbit to 14 days, but that planned had been scrapped.

The 14-day cycle will supposedly give the spacecraft more opportunities to pass near the planet to gather more scientific data, according to a report. The engine firing that would drastically reduce the orbit time will not be initiated. Despite that, Juno will still be able to accomplish its goal in a safe distance.

"Juno is healthy, its science instruments are fully operational, and the data and images we've received are nothing short of amazing," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington said in a statement. 

Zuburchen further explained that the decision to forego the burn is aimed to preserve the spacecraft so that it can continue with its mission.

The spacecraft completed a five-year journey to the planet before it initiated its mission. The Juno mission consists of 36 flybys to Jupiter in order to gather scientific information. The spacecraft already completed few flybys with the latest last Feb. 2.

The next scheduled flyby takes place on March 27. Although the spacecraft won't be changing its orbit, experts say that the quality of the science collected will not suffer. The altitude over Jupiter will still be the same.

Scientists say that the longer orbit will give them new opportunities to explore the reach of Jupiter's magnetic field that apparently increases the research value of the mission.

For each orbit, Juno will still fly over Jupiter's cloud as close as 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers). This will give Juno the window to observe Jupiter's auroras under the obstruction of clouds.

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