Space

NASA expands Mars and Jupiter planetary exploration missions

Summary

NASA is happy to give the Mars and Jupiter missions a bit extra time to finish their studies, but there is no assurance that their extended missions can be finished. According to an expert assessment panel NASA agency cited in a […]

NASA is happy to give the Mars and Jupiter missions a bit extra time to finish their studies, but there is no assurance that their extended missions can be finished. According to an expert assessment panel NASA agency cited in a press release, the Juno orbital mission at the Jupiter will be extended for four years, as well as the InSight lander mission at the Mars two on the grounds of each mission delivering excellent research. But the mission extensions will have problems associated with them.

During the anticipated EM [extended mission], power margins of InSight “are expected to hit extremely low levels mostly during projected EM [extended mission],” the review panel observed, noting that the spacecraft would likely need to introduce power-saving steps to sustain the mission running beyond late July 2021. If dust accumulates above a certain threshold, provided those steps, the lander’s solar panels may not draw adequate power to continue the project until the completion of its extension in 2022 December.

Similarly, owing to the extreme radiation setting wherein the spacecraft operates, there is no assurance that Juno will sustain its mission to its current completion date in 2025. That said, Juno has safe tools and power margins, review panel observed, enabling it to continue operating long past its prime goal. The panel indicated that further findings would prepare the upcoming Europa Clipper mission to explore Jupiter’s icy moon.

With a prime mission, modern planetary science missions initially arrive at their destination, so an entire science order, schedule, and budget are granted to them. To validate an expanded mission, the Planetary Science Division of NASA must order a revision every 3 years thereafter. In addition to this year’s process, Lori Glaze, who works at the planetary science division as the director, wrote in the letter that the recommendations were submitted to committees of independent experts with an expertise in science, operations as well as mission management (Jan. 8).

In assessing the importance of maintaining the work of a mission, together with realistic considerations such as the existing funds and the performance of the spacecraft, conference reports, journal publications as well as other indicators of scientific production are weighed. NASA acknowledged the importance of enabling planetary missions to resume their work as the mission development; instrument design as well as spacecraft launch costs are all already being accounted for. “Extended flights exploit large investments of NASA, ensuring continuous science operations at an expense far lower compared to developing a new mission,” NASA stated in the press release.