New Delhi: Days after NASA's Juno spacecraft is safely parked in orbit around Jupiter, the engineers and scientists working behind the ambitious project have been busying themselves, powering up their science instruments aboard the probe to peer deep within the gas giant planet..
As per NASA, the mission team has started getting their newly arrived orbiter ready for operations around the largest planetary inhabitant in the solar system.
NASA's Juno successfully entered Jupiter's orbit during a 35-minute engine burn on Monday, July 4 after a five-year voyage, and confirmation that the burn had completed was received on Earth at 8:53 pm. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) that evening.
As planned, the spacecraft returned to high-rate communications on July 5 and powered up five of its science instruments on July 6, says NASA.
Per the mission plan, the remaining science instruments will be powered up before the end of the month. Juno’s science instruments had been turned off in the days leading up to Jupiter orbit insertion.
“We had to turn all our beautiful instruments off to help ensure a successful Jupiter orbit insertion on July 4,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “But next time around we will have our eyes and ears open. You can expect us to release some information about our findings around September 1.”
The Juno team has scheduled a short trajectory correction maneuver on July 13 to refine the orbit around Jupiter.
"Prior to launch five years ago we planned a date and time for the Jupiter orbit insertion burn and the team nailed it,” said Rick Nybakken, project manager for Juno from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We are in our planned 53.4 day orbit. Now we are focusing on preparing for our fourth and final main engine burn, which will put us in our 14-day science orbit on October 19.”
On August 27, Juno will make its close approch to Jupiter and get its first good look at the planet with all of its instruments on. The flyby is expected to provide some preliminary science data.