Artist’s impressions of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, in orbit around Jupiter (left), and the InSight lander on Mars. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech
An independent review panel has recommended that NASA extend the missions of the Juno and InSight spacecraft exploring Jupiter and Mars respectively because both have “produced exceptional science.”
Launched in August 2011, Juno braked into an elliptical polar orbit around Jupiter in July 2016, making repeated passes over the giant planet’s cloud tops to study its interior structure, its powerful magnetic field and magnetosphere and the dynamics of its turbulent atmosphere. The review board recommended extending Juno’s mission through September 2025 or the spacecraft’s end of life, whichever comes first.
Along with continuing Juno’s primary lines of research, mission managers say they will expand the spacecraft’s investigations of Jupiter’s rings and moons with targeted, close flybys of Ganymede, Europa and Io.
InSight, an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, was launched in May 2018 and landed on the red planet’s Elysium Planitia the following November. The spacecraft is equipped with an ultra-sensitive French Space Agency seismometer, a sophisticated weather station supplied by Spain and a sub-surface temperature probe provided by the German Aerospace Center.
Engineers have ...