#astronomy File rocket firing avoids mission-ending eclipse for Juno – Astronomy Now

October 4, 2019 - Comment

A spectacular picture of Jupiter’s cloud tops as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Picture: NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran © cc nc sa When NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft was launched in 2011, engineers deliberate to place the spacecraft right into a 14-day orbit round Jupiter, one that might enable



A spectacular picture of Jupiter’s cloud tops as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Picture: NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran © cc nc sa

When NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft was launched in 2011, engineers deliberate to place the spacecraft right into a 14-day orbit round Jupiter, one that might enable scientists to satisfy all of the mission’s targets with out having to fret a few deadly multi-hour journey by means of Jupiter’s shadow.

However after reaching an preliminary 53-day orbit round Jupiter in 2016, engineers encountered a doable downside with Juno’s most important propulsion system and opted to not use the principle engine to scale back the orbital interval. All the mission’s science objectives may very well be met within the 53-day orbit, they determined, however it could take longer.

And it could ultimately carry the spacecraft into Jupiter’s shadow throughout its subsequent flyby on three November.

“Pre-launch mission planning didn’t anticipate a prolonged eclipse that might plunge our solar-powered spacecraft into darkness,” stated Ed Hirst, Juno venture supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

After an in depth examine, engineers concluded they may use Juno’s smaller manoeuvring thrusters to vary the trajectory sufficient to keep away from what amounted to an 11-hour-long photo voltaic eclipse. However it could take a very lengthy firing, a Juno-record 10.5-hour “burn,” to tug it off.

A body from an animation exhibiting the view from Juno because it approaches Jupiter with the Solar seen as a yellow speck simply to the left of the enormous planet. A 10.5-hour thruster firing modified Juno’s trajectory sufficient to maintain the Solar in view of its photo voltaic panels, avoiding a mission-ending eclipse. Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI

The manoeuvre started at 23:46 GMT on 30 September and ended on 1 October, consuming about 73 kilograms (160 kilos) of propellant and altering the spacecraft’s velocity by 203 kph (126 mph). Relieved mission managers stated it went off with out a hitch.

“With the success of this burn, we’re on monitor to leap the shadow on Nov. three,” stated Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator on the Southwest Analysis Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

“Leaping over the shadow was an amazingly inventive resolution to what appeared like a deadly geometry. Eclipses are typically not associates of solar-powered spacecraft. Now as an alternative of worrying about freezing to demise, I’m wanting ahead to the subsequent science discovery that Jupiter has in retailer for Juno.”



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