NASA has approved an update to Juno’s science operations until July 2021. This provides for an additional 41 months in orbit around Jupiter and will enable Juno to achieve its primary science objectives.
Juno that is being managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is in 53-day orbits rather than 14-day orbits as initially planned because of a concern about valves on the spacecraft’s fuel system. This longer orbit means that it will take more time to collect the needed science data.
An independent panel of experts confirmed in April that Juno is on track to achieve its science objectives and is already returning spectacular results. The Juno spacecraft and all instruments are healthy and operating nominally. NASA has now funded Juno through FY 2022. The end of prime operations is now expected in July 2021, with data analysis and mission activities continuing into 2022.
“With these funds, not only can the Juno team continue to answer long-standing questions about Jupiter,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With every additional orbit, both scientists and citizen scientists will help unveil new surprises about this distant world."
"These updated plans for Juno will allow it to complete its primary science goals,"said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno, from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. "As a bonus, the larger orbits allow us to further explore the far reaches of the Jovian magnetosphere -- the region of space dominated by Jupiter's magnetic field.”
Juno will make its 13th science flyby over Jupiter's mysterious cloud tops on July 16.