NASA’s robotic Juno spacecraft wil spend another three years probing the inside of Jupiter, giving the mission more time to meet its primary science objectives after concerns over the health of the probe’s engine prevented it from dropping into a lower, shorter orbit around the solar system’s biggest planet.
Speeding through the outer reaches of the solar system nearly 3.8 billion miles from Earth, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has awakened from a five-and-a-half month slumber, ready for a second act after its 2015 flyby of Pluto with a New Year’s Day encounter with a primordial world set to become the most distant object ever explored.
Now more than two years outbound from its historic encounter with Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is on target for a fleeting flyby less than 2,200 miles from 2014 MU69, an icy, city-sized world set to become the most distant object ever visited, just after midnight Jan. 1, 2019, on the U.S. East Coast. Scientists now say the probe may be able to pursue another destination some time in the 2020s.
Ground observations of the New Horizons spacecraft’s next target last month revealed the distant object, lurking in the outer solar system more than four billion miles from Earth, might have an unconventional elongated shape, or even consist of two icy bodies orbiting one another in an age-old cosmic dance.
Two days after NASA’s Juno spacecraft streaked over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, pictures of the solar system’s largest, most powerful storm, have been transmitted to Earth, giving eager scientist close-up views of the 10,000-mile-wide anticyclone where 400-mph winds have been howling for at least 187 years and possibly much longer.