NASA cited discoveries that “produced outstanding scientific results” and therefore decided to add a few years to its two planetary science missions: the Jupiter Juno mission and the Mars InSight lander.
After a lengthy review process (which can be found here), the space agency concluded that both missions “have improved our understanding of the solar system and inspired a series of new and diverse issues.”
Lori Glaze, director of the planetary science department, said in a statement: “The advanced review confirmed that these two planetary science missions are likely to continue to bring new discoveries and create new problems for our solar system.”
“I thank the members of the senior review team for their comprehensive analysis and the mission team, who will continue to provide exciting opportunities to deepen our understanding of the dynamics of Jupiter and Mars.”
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Juno has made many discoveries on Jupiter, including capturing amazing, never-seen images, and “snow-white” elliptical storms.
The Juno mission was launched in 2011 and was originally scheduled to cease operations in July 2021, but will now continue until September 2025 or the end of its service life, whichever comes first. Juno will not only continue to observe the gas giant, but also observe the rings and moons of the planets, including the “close pass” of Ganimede, Europa and Io.
Researchers have previously said that Europa is the sixth largest moon in the solar system and the home of the “living” ocean. In August 2019, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) confirmed that it would send a mission to Europa to further explore the celestial body.
After the Curiosity rover landed in August 2012, the InSight lander became the space agency’s first probe to the Red Planet in six years at a cost of $828 million.
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The InSight lander mission will be extended until at least December 2022. It will continue to collect seismic and weather data and use thermal probes for research.
The InSight (Internal Exploration Using Seismic Survey, Geodesy, and Thermal), managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been the “Seven Minute Terror” mission since November 2018.
The lander was originally scheduled to launch in March 2016, but when a vacuum leak was found in the spacecraft’s main scientific instruments, NASA suspended preparations for launch.
In April 2019, the InSight lander recorded the first “Martian earthquake” in history.
In September 2019, the InSight lander discovered a strange burst of electromagnetic pulses on Mars, causing “interesting questions.”
NASA’s long-term goal is to send manned missions to Mars in the 2030s.
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