Juno travels to Jupiter after a fly-by very “safe”
In the close passage of the Juno probe, everything went well; resulted with some unexpected thrill. Wednesday, 9 October the mission NASA has performed his gravity assist approached land up to a distance of just 559 miles from us before returning to the route to Jupiter, which will reach in 2016. From the point of view of scientific instruments there were no problems and the team, meeting in Denver, was able to receive and parse the first data collected before during a close pass to the Moon, and then during the Earth flyby.
The images taken from JunoCam and the data captured by the other instruments were sufficient to calibrate and make evident the proper functioning of the scientific payload. During the flyby, the two Italian instruments have behaved admirably. The spectrometer, JIRAM image designed by INAF-PRACTICE, has produced interesting images and spectra of the Moon during its period of operation and radio science instrument KaT, of paternity of the University ‘ La Sapienza ‘ in Rome, has recorded data that in the coming weeks will be analysed to better understand the phenomenon of “flyby anomaly”, a discrepancy compared with the theoretical value of the energy released to the probes found in the past during some gravity-assist. Even the American JunoCAM has carried out his task, producing a sequence of images of the approach ranging from first frame in which the moon appears in 200. 000 Miles away like a far-off and mysterious world, until striking close-up of our planet where you can recognize clouds and continents. Just 10 minutes after the moment of closest approach to the Earth, they started the real surprises. Surprises, those go by the name of safe-mode, a procedure whereby the spacecraft automatically shut down all non-essential systems to ensure the survival and continuation of the operation, in the event of a technical incident. The fact has happened about 20 minutes after that Juno was entered in the shadow of the Earth. In this condition the probe is not illuminated by sunlight and private energy, normally supplied by its solar panels, should switch to battery power. At this stage, and so completely unexpected (and possibly disconnected), the spacecraft went into safe mode, from which was released only Friday, after over 24 hours. To make the situation more difficult than it should have, definitely played the shutdown of NASA which prevented the press conferences and press releases that usually accompany and explain this kind of incidents and that continues to make more complex operations than usual. Among NASA employees that have communicated with the outside world at this juncture, Rick Nybakken, Juno mission project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, reassured the media immediately: “Juno had never gone into safe mode before and we are studying why it happened now. But the State of health and energy situation of the probe is flawless. “And if the scientific team has charted the various stages of the flyby with bated breath, also a part of the population left and did just as. The first three pictures of amateur astronomers received so far and will be sent to NASA for publication, once the shutdown; the first comes from Giuseppe Pappa from the province of Catania. Is not particularly clear but certainly deserves publication, having been shot with a simple shopping camera to 21:52, when the spacecraft was still very low on the horizon. The second was created nearby Aquila (recorded at the Observatory from the Minor Planet Center with the code C93) by Paolo Berardi and Maria Giovanna Scraper with a CCD mounted on a small refractor. Finally, the third is an exhibition of 120s created da Ernesto Guy with a telescope in Spain also repeated (the MPC code T) when the spacecraft was already 125.000 Miles from our planet. In all three images, the spacecraft is visible as a band because of its speed relative to the background stars in the sky. And if the flyby is a time technical verification, in which a spacecraft, traveling at high speed to achieve a delicate and crucial maneuver, it’s easy to see why once you have completed the science activity series, the world of official science wish to celebrate.