Thursday, May 23, 2013

Juno Mission Status

Juno Mission Status

May 22 update: Mission controllers received confirmation from the spacecraft today that its MWR, JEDI and Waves instruments were powered off as planned. The magnetometer experiment remains powered on at low data rates. The planned instrument shutdown was done in preparation for the spacecraft’s upcoming switch to its lower data rate antennas as it begins the next phase of its mission, dubbed “Inner Cruise 3” on May 29.

The solar-powered Juno spacecraft and its saucer-shaped high-gain antenna (or HGA) always point sunward, but while Juno is in the inner solar system, Earth’s position on the sky shifts dramatically. Earth’s movement means that Juno cannot always use its HGA and benefit from its high data rate connection. For this reason, the spacecraft has a suite of antennas that allow communications with Earth from other angles, but at the cost of lower data rates, resulting in a reduction in Juno’s ability to transmit science data during that time. Juno’s science instruments will be powered on again shortly before the Earth flyby, slated for Oct. 9.