NASA has decided to extend the missions of Juno and InSight probes, giving both several more years to gather data.
InSight main goal for the two-year extension will be to gather more seismic data of Mars. They will also continue their efforts to get the heat sensor into the ground, but that will have a lower priority.
Juno will be able to slowly adjust its orbit to better study Jupiter’s north polar regions, thus developing a more complete first rough map of the gas giant’s internal structure and atmosphere. The changing orbit will also allow the first close fly-bys of some of Jupiter’s moons, the first in more than twenty years.
The moon flybys could begin in mid-2021 with an encounter with Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, at a distance of roughly 600 miles (1,000 kilometers), Bolton said last year.
After a series of distant passes, Juno will swoop just 200 miles (320 kilometers) above Europa in late 2022 for a high-speed flyby. Only NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which ended its mission in 2003, has come closer to Europa.
There are two encounters with Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io planned in 2024 at distances of about 900 miles (1,500 kilometers), according to the flight plan presented by Bolton last year. Juno will be able to look for changes on the surfaces of Jupiter’s moons since they were last seen up close by NASA’s Voyager and Galileo probes.
While it will take images, Juno’s camera is not particularly high resolution. The main effort will be to use its instruments to study the surface make-up of the moons.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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