NASA’s Juno spacecraft has lost more than 200 photos taken during its recent flyby of the gas giant due to a technical problem. It is the second time in a row that there have been such difficulties, but this time they were much more serious. Both the 47th and the 48th close pass of Jupiter resulted in the loss of photos due to an abnormal rise in temperature. If the problem lasted a good 36 minutes in mid-December, it was around 23 hours on January 22nd. That’s why 214 photos are “unusable” now, you can only work with 44. In December, four out of 90 recordings were affected.
Cause still unknown
There aren’t many details about the technical problems so far, and NASA doesn’t seem to know exactly what’s going on either. It was said in December that the camera’s temperature was believed to have risen unexpectedly after it was activated prior to the flyby. Affected is the so-called JunoCam, which photographs the clouds of Jupiter in visible light, with the declared aim of taking beautiful pictures for the public. The recordings are also used for scientific work, but the camera is not one of the probe’s research instruments. It’s actually always turned off after flybys, but it stayed on after the flyby a few days ago. This is to avoid the activation problems.
In both cases, as NASA explained, the camera resumed taking pictures as soon as its temperature dropped. The exact cause of the problem will be further investigated. The camera was designed to work on Jupiter with the strong radiation. At the same time, it should only survive seven close flybys. It has long since clearly surpassed this original mission objective. The next close flyby of Jupiter is scheduled for March 1st, NASA explains. The data of the research instruments are therefore probably not affected by the problem, but their download always takes some time. Only then can they be checked.
Juno arrived at Jupiter in the summer of 2016 and has been orbiting the gas giant ever since. Among other things, Juno has already determined that the planet’s magnetic field is significantly stronger than expected. In addition, thanks to Juno, the researchers have already been able to observe that the north pole of the gas giant differs significantly from its south pole. Analyzing the poles was one of the most important goals of the mission, because they were previously not visible to passing probes and were therefore still largely unexplored.
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