Tag Archives: Jupiter

After postponing Juno’s second midcourse correction burn, engineers have now successfully completed that burn.

After postponing Juno’s second midcourse correction burn last month, engineers have now successfully completed that burn.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully executed a second Deep Space Maneuver, called DSM-2 last Friday, Sept. 14. The 30 minute firing of its main engine refined the Jupiter-bound spacecraft’s trajectory, setting the stage for a gravity assist from a flyby of Earth on Oct 9, 2013. Juno will arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016.

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Europe has decided to build a probe, dubbed JUICE, to study Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, Jupiter’s big icy moons.

Europe has decided to build a probe to study Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, Jupiter’s big icy moons.

Known as JUICE, the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, the probe will enter orbit around the gas giant planet in 2030 for a series of flybys of Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. JUICE will brake into orbit around Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, in 2032 for at least one year of close-up research.

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Scientists have published the first complete global geological map of the Jupiter moon Io.

Scientists have published the first complete global geological map of the Jupiter moon Io.

The highly detailed, colorful map reveals a number of volcanic features, including: paterae (caldera-like depressions), lava flow fields, tholi (volcanic domes), and plume deposits, in various shapes, sizes and colors, as well as high mountains and large expanses of sulfur- and sulfur dioxide-rich plains. The mapping identified 425 paterae, or individual volcanic centers. One feature you will not see on the geologic map is impact craters. “Io has no impact craters; it is the only object in the Solar System where we have not seen any impact craters, testifying to Io’s very active volcanic resurfacing,” says Williams.

You can download the map here.

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Juno looks back and sees the Earth and the Moon

Earth and Moon

Juno, on its way to Jupiter, took a look back and snapped this picture of the Earth/Moon double planet.

The image was taken by the spacecraft’s camera, JunoCam, on Aug. 26 when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles (9.66 million kilometers) away.

Gives us a glimpse at what our home planet will really look like to future spacefarers, either on they way out or on their way home.

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A wish list of spectacular future planetary missions

Steve Squyres of Cornell University and the project scientist of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity spoke today at an astrobiology symposium in Arlington, Virginia. He described several spectacular planetary missions that might be flown in the coming decade. All are being considered. None have yet been chosen or funded.

  • A mission to grab a sample from a comet and return it to Earth.

  • A mission to put a rover or lander on one of the poles of Mars to study the frozen layers of water under the icecap.

  • Mars sample return mission. This mission is so difficult and expensive that it probably would be broken down into three parts:
    • Two rovers on the surface to gather and cache sample material.

    • A lander/rover mission to grab the samples and bring them up to Mars orbit. “Putting into orbit a precious cargo the size of a coconut,” Squyres said.

    • A mission to grab the sample cargo in Martian orbit and return it to Earth.

  • An orbiter to study both Jupiter and its moon Europa.

  • An orbiter to Enceladus, the moon of Saturn, to study the water and organic chemistry in its mysterious plumes.

  • An orbiter to Titan, with balloon to probe the atmosphere as well as a “lake lander, a boat” to study Titan’s lakes.

  • A variety of landers and rovers to go to Venus. One of the more astonishing mission concepts would land, then take off again to visit different places on the surface.

Squyres is the co-chair of a committee of the National Science Foundation that is right now putting together a decadal survey for outlining unmanned planetary research for the next decade. This survey is expected to be released in March, which is when we will find out which of the above missions the planetary science community prefers.

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Amateur detection of Jupiter impact

The detection in June by two different amateur astronomers of an impact on Jupiter bodes well for asteroid/comet research. You can read the actual paper here. [pdf] Key quote from the abstract:

A systematic study of the impact rate and size of these bolides can enable an empirical determination of the flux of meteoroids in Jupiter with implications for the populations of small bodies in the outer Solar System and may allow a better quantification of the threat of impacting bodies to Earth. The serendipitous recording of this optical flash opens a new window in the observation of Jupiter with small telescopes.

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