The Juno space probe has just made a very long propulsive phase so as not to succumb to the shadow of Jupiter. It takes almost 12 hours to cross the Jovian night at orbital speed. 12 hours without sun is very long for a space probe that is powered by solar panels.
With its previous trajectory, the Juno space probe should have experienced this on November 3, 2019, but NASA preferred to avoid this situation and chose to ignite the thrusters for more than 10 hours. This maneuver was a great success. The Juno space probe is no longer likely to empty its batteries in the middle of the night of Jupiter, which should allow to continue its mission without problems. The US space probe consumed 73 kg of fuel in this maneuver.
The Juno space probe will continue to study Jupiter until the summer of 2021. It will then plunge into the atmosphere of the gas giant, as did the Cassini space probe in Saturn’s atmosphere, to avoid any risk of contamination of the many moons of Jupiter.
Juno is halfway through its mission
– News of January 7, 2019 –
Juno is in the middle of his mission around Jupiter. The space probe has just made its sixteenth close passage over the clouds of Jupiter. Its scientific goals are focused on the gas giant. This includes understanding a little better how it was formed. For this, Juno closely studies the atmospheric layers, the internal composition, the magnetic field or the polar aurorae of Jupiter. But that does not prevent him from taking some photographs of Jovian moons. Juno’s mission is expected to end in 2021.
NASA / JPL [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons