A pair of current NASA missions – the Juno spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter and the InSight landing on Mars – have been extended after an external inspection.
An independent review committee said that both Juno and InSight had “created exceptional science” and that both missions should continue, According to to a NASA statement.
“The Senior Review has confirmed that these two planetary science missions are likely to continue to bring new discoveries and raise new questions about our solar system,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division.
The solution must have been seamless, as the Juno and InSight missions have been quite successful and both continue to gather valuable scientific data. Moreover, extending these missions is much cheaper than having to develop new missions. And, as NASA pointed out, “extensions allow missions to continue to acquire valuable long-term datasets.”
Juno arrived in Jupiter in July 2016, where he has been working for the last four and a half years. The spacecraft was placed in a highly elliptical orbit that took it away from Jupiter, but during its Parisian (closest approach) it reached 2,600 miles (4,184 kilometers) from the gas peaks of the gas giant. Juno will make four parishes in 2021, the first on February 21.
Juno has taken some of the most gorgeous photos once on Jupiter and has contributed important to our understanding of the planet’s atmosphere, internal structure (including shallow lightning and hail) and the magnetosphere.
With the extension, Juno will be in business until 2025 – assuming it doesn’t expire first – during which time it will explore Jupiter’s rings (yes, Jupiter has rings) and several large moons, namely Io, Ganymede and Europa, the last of which could harbour basic life beneath its frozen surface. The extension of the mission is welcome news, as NASA planned to do catastrophe Juno in Jupiter later this year to prevent contamination of Jovian’s system.
InSight arrived at Elysium Planitia on Mars in November 2018. The stationary landing party monitors the weather on Mars, finds weaknesses Marseilles, collects data related to the planet’s dynamic atmosphere and magnetic field, and occasionally encounters a dust devil. The InSight mission will continue at least until December 2022, with an additional focus on monitoring tectonic activity.
The landing gear Heat Probe and Physical Properties (HP3) on the landing is a severe headache that requires a lot of attention from the team of NASA and DLR, the German space agency responsible for the probe. Called a mole, it had to dig to depths of up to 3 meters.
The mole’s last word was that it was completely buried, but it is not yet clear whether the device can actually penetrate deeper. The probe is probably good in terms of how it should work; the problem is related to the type of Martian regolith called hard roof (cement-like compound) encountered by drilling. Moving forward, NASA will continue to deploy the mole, but with a lower priority.
In February 18.NASA’s Perseverance rover will join InSight along with Curiosity. The next generation the rover will have to endure “seven minutes of horrorDuring the descent phase, as it tries to make a soft landing in the crater Jezero, the site of the former lake and delta of the river.