NASA loses more than 200 Jupiter photos after Juno probe camera glitch

NASA loses more than 200 Jupiter photos after Juno probe camera glitch

For the second consecutive flyby, a Jupiter student key camera struggled to take pictures as usual.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched in 2011 and arrived at Jupiter in 2016; Since then, he’s made nearly 50 flybys of our solar system’s largest planet and caught valuable glimpses of Jupiter’s large moons, each a strange world in their own right. But during the spacecraft’s last flyby, on January 22, the camera was only able to capture about a fifth of the intended images.

A similar problem occurred during the previous flyby, in December; Mission personnel believe the camera issue stems from the camera reaching an unusually high temperature and continuing to resolve the issue, according to a statement.

Related: Jupiter’s true colors appear in new images from NASA’s Juno mission

Shortly after the December 14 flyby, Juno encountered a memory problem that sent the spacecraft into safe mode, delaying data transmission to Earth, according to a statement at the time. Juno bounced back smoothly and most of the data reached Earth safely, but JunoCam struggled early in the flyby.

The camera had been aimed to capture 90 images during the December flyby, but the first four photos turned bad. The mission team determined that when JunoCam turned on, temperatures rose enough to interfere with photography, and the instrument had cooled by the end of those first four frames.

But now the problem seems to have happened again, this time for longer – 23 hours instead of 36 minutes, according to NASA. This time the issue left 214 frames unusable, with only a decent 44 frames returning after the instrument cooled down enough.

“The mission team is evaluating JunoCam engineering data acquired during the two recent flybys – the 47th and 48th of the mission – and investigating the root cause of the anomaly and mitigation strategies,” wrote sources. NASA officials. “JunoCam will remain powered on for now and the camera will continue to operate in its nominal state.”

Juno’s next flyby will be on March 1.

Mission staff considered launching Juno without a camera on board, as the spacecraft’s science objectives did not require such an instrument, but the agency decided to add JunoCam as a public outreach project. The color camera snaps photos of Jupiter’s dynamic cloud tops, with the audience suggesting where to aim and processing the collected images.

And JunoCam wasn’t guaranteed to last even that long, according to NASA: it was designed to survive just seven passes through the hazardous environment surrounding Jupiter.

Juno itself also operates beyond its primary mission, which ended in July 2021; it is currently expected to run until September 2025.

Email Meghan Bartels at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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