Wednesday December 19, 2018

NASA’s Juno spacecraft to make its Fifth flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious Cloud Tops

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Jupiter, Source: NASA
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Washington, March 26, 2017: NASA said its Juno spacecraft will make its fifth flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops on Monday.

At the time of closest approach, Juno will be about 4,400 km above the planet’s cloud tops, moving at a speed of about 57.8 km per second relative to the gas-giant planet.

All of Juno’s eight science instruments will be on and collecting data during the flyby.

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“This will be our fourth science pass — the fifth close flyby of Jupiter of the mission — and we are excited to see what new discoveries Juno will reveal,” said Scott Bolton, Principal Investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, US.

“Every time we get near Jupiter’s cloud tops, we learn new insights that help us understand this amazing giant planet,” Bolton said in a statement.

Launched on August 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Juno arrived in orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016.

During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet’s cloud tops.

During these flybys, Juno probes beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

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The Juno science team continues to analyse returns from previous flybys. Scientists have discovered that Jupiter’s magnetic fields are more complicated than originally thought, and that the belts and zones that give the planet’s cloud tops their distinctive look extend deep into the its interior.

Observations of the energetic particles that create the incandescent auroras suggest a complicated current system involving charged material lofted from volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io.

Peer-reviewed papers with more in-depth science results from Juno’s first flybys are expected to be published within the next few months, NASA said. (IANS)

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Rocket Lab is Set To Launch 10 NASA CubeSats

They will be placed in RailPODs aboard the Electron rocket that will ferry them to space

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Kepler, NASA, tissue
Rocket Lab to launch 10 NASA CubeSats on Sunday. Pixabay

In its first mission for NASA, the American aerospace manufacturer Rocket Lab is set to launch 10 small research satellites, or CubeSats, from New Zealand, the US space agency said.

Owing to bad weather, Rocket Lab was forced to postpone the earlier decided launch on December 12.

Rocket Lab is now targeting the ELaNa-19 launch on December 15 with a launch window opening at 11 p.m. EST from the company’s launch complex on the Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand, NASA said in a statement on Friday.

The CubeSats were built by three NASA centres, seven universities, and a middle school under the NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites, or (ELaNa-19) mission.

ElaNa-19 is NASA’s first to be completely dedicated to launching CubeSats under the agency’s Venture Class Launch Services program for small-satellite launches.

More than 250 students have been involved in the design, development and construction of the CubeSats scheduled to be flown as payloads on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket.

NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Owing to bad weather, Rocket Lab was forced to postpone the earlier decided launch on December 12. Flickr

“The major difference between today’s launch and previous #ELaNa missions is that for the first time, NASA will have a launch completely dedicated to CubeSats rather than having the small satellites ride along with a much larger spacecraft that is the primary mission,” NASA Launch Services Program officials wrote on Twitter on December 12.

The 10 CubeSats are named as CubeSail, CeREs, NMTSat, CHOMPTT, ALBus, STF-1, ISX, RSat, Shields-1 and DaVinci, NASA said.

These are built to standard dimensions of one unit (1U), and can be 1U, 2U, 3U or 6U in size. They generally weigh less than 1.33 kg per U — 6U may be up to 12 kg.

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They will be placed in RailPODs aboard the Electron rocket that will ferry them to space.

After the main payload deploys, the CubeSats will separate from their RailPODs. After 45 minutes in orbit, the CubeSat transmitters will turn on and university ground stations will listen for their beacons, determine their small satellites’ functionality and announce operational status.

CubeSat mission durations and orbital life vary but are anticipated to last at least three years. Upon mission completion, the CubeSats fall to Earth, burning up in the atmosphere, NASA noted. (IANS)