Juno, the spacecraft that NASA launched is completing a five year trip on Monday, and ever since they launched it has outlived NASA’s original expectations. They have announced their decision on Friday, the decision being, the nine are still producing bounties of observations for scientists so they are going to extend the 9 older robotics’ mission.
Well, NASA expected the extension of the New Horizons spacecraft, which flew to Pluto last year; it was targeted beyond Neptune then as one of the icy, tiny objects circling its ring, called 2014 MU69. But the huge surprise and a mild disappointment were the extension on the Dawn Spacecraft, which is orbiting Ceres, the dwarf planet in the asteroid belt. The Dawn was running low on fuel. It was originally designed to pivot in four different directions with four wheels but at its previous destination, the asteroid Vesta, two of the four wheels overheated and failed so they used thrusters instead to pivot.
Just when they expected the Dawn to exhaust its propellant, they spun up the wheels again and it all worked out beautifully and it left enough fuel to do something more, said Marc D. Rayman, the chief engineer for the Dawn mission.
A member of Dawn’s social team, mistakenly published Dr. Rayman’s unfinished draft that Dr. Rayman had started writing in case NASA selected that course, stating the announcement that “Dawn would leave Ceres and head toward a flyby of a third asteroid, Adeona, in 2019.”
But, then it was agreed between Dr. Rayman and NASA headquarters that the Dawn continue until next spring, as long as the spinning wheels kept working.
Dr. Russell, a professor of geophysics and space physics at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote in an email.
“Almost every time when you are doing exploration, a new path is going to provide more return on your investment (time or money) than continuing to repeat the old well-worn path,”
Well, NASA officials only want their managers to justify the long lived missions which cost them the continual operations because the final decision is in the hands of NASA depending on whether or not they have the budget for all the extensions.
But it is finalized that, on Monday, Juno will begin the 20 months of orbiting the largest planet in the solar system, being at NASA’s center stage as well.