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NASA Delays Plan To Put Juno Closer To Jupiter 'Til December 2016

First Posted: Oct 18, 2016 04:55 AM EDT
NASA has delayed the burn of the main rocket motor of Juno Spacecraft to Jupiter until December 2016
NASA has delayed the burn of the main rocket motor of Juno Spacecraft to Jupiter until December 2016.
(Photo : David McNew / Stringer / Getty Images)

The mission managers for Juno spacecraft's research work around Jupiter have decided to postpone the upcoming burn of the main rocket motor which has been designed to put the spaceship closer to the planet until December 2016, NASA said on Saturday.

According to The Indian Express, the decision has been made in order to test and study the performance of a set of valves that are present in Juno's fuel pressurization system. The burn was previously scheduled for October 19. It is known as the period reduction maneuver (PRM), and aims at reducing the orbital period of the spacecraft around Jupiter from 53.4 days to just 14 days.

"It is important to note that the orbital period does not affect the quality of the science that takes place during one of Juno's close flybys of Jupiter," stated Scott Bolton, the principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. He added that the mission is quite flexible that way. The data sent by Juno's first flyby on 27 August made some fascinating and important revelations. The team anticipates similar results from the next flyby that will take place on October 19.

NASA said that the best opportunity to perform such a burn is when the spacecraft is present at the part of Jupiter's orbit that is closest to the planet. Hence, the next suitable time for the burn will be December 11 during Juno's close flyby of Jupiter.

Mission designers initially planned to limit the number of scientific instruments on board during Juno's 19 October close flyby of Jupiter. Now, when the period reduction maneuver has been delayed, all the science instruments on Juno will gather data during the forthcoming flyby.

The Juno spaceship was launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and reached Jupiter on 4th July, 2016. It is a solar powered spaceship that was launched with the primary aim of searching for clues and evidences regarding the planet's formation, including the amount of water present within the deepest atmosphere, whether it has a rocky core, its deep winds and mass distribution.

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