The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that it will expand the missions of two interplanetary explorers it launched in the past decade-the Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter, and the InSight lander on the surface of Mars.
Juno expansion means that the spacecraft will operate in the Jupiter system by 2025. This will effectively transform the spacecraft from a mission to study Jupiter to a mature Jupiter system explorer, and complete a close flyby of several Jupiter satellites and their satellites. Ring system.
Returning to the inner solar system on the surface of Mars, the InSight mission will continue until December 2022. For the next two years, the lander will continue to operate its seismometer to identify earthquakes and continue to collect detailed information about the weather on the surface.
Having determined that both missions have completed excellent scientific work so far, an independent review team recommended that both missions be extended to NASA. Lori Glaze, director of the Planetary Science Department at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said: “The advanced review has confirmed that these two planetary science missions may continue to bring new discoveries and new problems to our solar system. “
Excited about Juno
For us, Juno’s mission expansion is the most attractive. Since launching in 2011, Juno entered a polar orbit around Jupiter in July 2016. Since then, it has completed more than 30 orbits around the largest planet in the solar system, studying the composition and magnetic field of Jupiter. It also survived the extremely harsh radiation environment.
The extension indicates that scientists and engineers believe that the spacecraft is healthy enough to continue to work and can more than double the number of orbits in the Jupiter system to 76. In the next five years, the spacecraft will adjust its orbit so that Juno will be able to fly closer to some of Jupiter’s most attractive satellites.
As part of the research project submitted by Juno’s principal researcher Scott Bolton, the spacecraft will fly to within 1,000 kilometers of Europa’s surface this summer and within 320 kilometers of Europa by the end of 2022. In 2000, he flew twice to within 1,500 kilometers of volcanic Io. In 2024.
With these overflights, Juno will be able to study Ganymede’s surface changes since Voyager and Galileo missions and study the 3D structure of Ganymede’s magnetosphere. When it is very close to Europa, Juno should be able to determine whether the moon’s ice crust is thick or thin, and confirm the presence of underground liquid water. During multiple close overflights of Io, Juno will monitor short-term changes in volcanic activity, which lasted several months between Voyager and Galileo.
The cost of expanding missions is only a small part of the actual construction and launch of large interplanetary spacecraft, usually over $1 billion, so they are like a reward for solar system exploration.