March 29, 2023

Oops… NASA Lost More Than 200 Photos of Jupiter After Juno Probe’s Camera Failed

Juno has done an incredible job since arriving at Jupiter in 2016. Most of what we know about the gas giant planet is thanks to the NASA spacecraft. However, the conditions under which it operates are not easy, and the US space agency announced that more than 200 pictures of Jupiter were lost after the probe’s camera failed.

This is the second time a camera has lost information. So what will be the impact of this collapse?

Illustration of NASA's Juno spacecraft passing Jupiter

Juno will overheat

NASA's Juno spacecraft was launched in 2011 and arrived at Jupiter in 2016. Since then, it has made about 50 flybys (flybys) of our solar system's largest planet. In these passes he was able to catch precious glimpses of Jupiter's great moons, each a strange world in its own right.

However, during the spacecraft's most recent flyby, on Jan. 22, the camera managed to capture only about a fifth of the images planned.

A similar problem occurred on the previous flight in December. According to information, mission technicians believe that the Chamber failure is caused by the device reaching an abnormally high temperaturewhich brings other problems.

Shortly after the Dec. 14 flyby, the probe experienced a memory problem that put the spacecraft into safe mode. That decision delayed the transmission of data to Earth, according to a statement made at the time. Juno recovered smoothly and most of the data reached our planet safely, but JunoCam struggled early in the flight.

The images of Zeus were irretrievably lost

The camera was instructed to take 90 images during the December flight, but the first four images turned out poorly. The mission team determined that when JunoCam was turned on, temperatures rose enough to interfere with photography, and the instrument had cooled by the end of these first four images.

However, now the question seems to have been repeated, this time for longer: 23 hours will have passed instead of 36 minutes, according to NASA. This time, the error left 214 images unused, with only 44 decent images returned after the instrument has cooled sufficiently.

The mission team is evaluating JunoCam engineering data acquired during the two recent flights—the 47th and 48th of the mission—and investigating the root cause of the anomaly and mitigation strategies. JunoCam will remain enabled for now and the camera will continue to operate in its rated state.

NASA officials wrote.

Juno's next flyby will take place on March 1

Mission staff considered launching Juno without an onboard camera, since the spacecraft's science goals did not require such an instrument, but the agency decided to add JunoCam as a public display project. The color camera takes pictures of Jupiter's dynamic clouds, with the audience suggesting where to show and edit the collected images.

And, according to NASA, JunoCam wasn't guaranteed to last even that long. As noted, the chamber was designed to survive just seven passes through the hazardous environment surrounding Jupiter.

Juno itself is also operating beyond its primary mission, which ended in July 2021. Currently, it is expected to continue operating until September 2025.

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