Juno flyby a success but probe departs Earth in “safe mode”

41 five-second exposures of the rapidly moving spacecraft Juno photographed with an 11-inch telescope from Chelmsford, UK last night. Credit: Nick James

Juno got the gravity boost it needed to send it onward to its Jupiter encounter in July 2016 but not without a hitch. It whizzed just 350 miles above Earth’s surface yesterday afternoon, but when it emerged from the planet’s shadow into sunlight, scientists discovered the probe has put itself in “safe mode” to protect its instruments and systems.

While everything’s still running smoothly, engineers are trying to figure out what happened so they can get the craft back into normal operating mode. It’s uncertain whether Juno accomplished all its planned observations during the flyby which included taking pictures of the Earth-moon system and gathering information about Earth’s magnetic field and auroras. Hopefully we’ll know soon. One thing’s for sure – it remains on course to Jupiter.

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

5 thoughts on “Juno flyby a success but probe departs Earth in “safe mode”

  1. In 49 days, we find out whether this 10th magnitude fuzzy blur will turn out to be the most memorable thing in the sky to see in our lives. I am talking about the sun grazer ISON. It is hard to believe that something that faint could turn out to be so bright next month. But less than 2 years ago, the sun grazer Lovejoy brightened up 16 magnitudes in the last 3 weeks. I am not suggesting that ISON will brighten from magnitude 7 to magnitude -9 in the last 3 weeks. Most do not believe that it will, but there is till a real possibility no matter how slim.

  2. Thank you Bob for keeping us informed in this, hopefully temporary, American space exploration flight programs information challenged times. A few more details and an amateur astronomers picture gallery of Juno’s fly by here: http://www.universetoday.com/105430/amateur-images-show-junos-slingshot-around-earth-was-a-success/
    I’m very confident about the mission’s outlook that will lead in the not too distant future to a Ganymede lander. Life is so much easier there ;)

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