Juno how to adjust a broken Jupiter probe's orbit?

We're asking because Juno's still in a bigger-than-hoped orbit. The pics are still lovely though

Jupiter's South pole. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Jupiter's South pole. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Supercolossal version here at NASA.

NASA's revealed that its Juno probe has made another close pass around Jupiter, but sadly remains in a longer-than-planned orbit that means it spends more time a long way away from the gas giant.

On February 2nd the probe sailed just 4,300 kilometres (2,670 miles) over the gas giant's cloud tops, capturing lots of lovely images that are now downloading and will in due course appear here.

For now, we have to content ourselves with the one above (here for m.reg readers that NASA has captioned “Cyclones swirl around the south pole, and white oval storms can be seen near the limb -- the apparent edge of the planet -- in this image of Jupiter’s south polar region taken by the JunoCam imager aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft.”

Juno's mission plan called for it to settle into a 14-day orbit. But this orbit required 53 days because of engine trouble that has seen NASA postpone burns needed to settle it into a closer-to-Jupiter orbit. The probe's also had software problems .

In the post accompanying the new images, NASA says the current 53-day orbit is not thought to be permanent, “as the team evaluates options for performing a maneuver to get the spacecraft into a shorter orbit period.”

But the agency also hedges a bit, saying “Juno can reveal amazing details about Jupiter even if it stays in the longer orbits for the duration of the mission.” ®


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