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Juno spacecraft won’t go into shorter orbit around Jupiter

illustration of Juno spacecraft at Jupiter

The Juno spacecraft, shown in this artist’s illustration, will not maneuver into a shorter orbit around Jupiter due to an issue with helium valves that are part of the plumbing for the probe’s main engine.

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NASA’s Juno spacecraft will stay in its current 53-day orbit around Jupiter instead of closing into a 14-day orbit as originally planned, the Juno team announced February 17.

An issue with two helium check valves, which are tied to the spacecraft’s main engine, had scientists concerned. The valves took several minutes to open when the team pressurized the spacecraft’s propulsion system in October. During previous main engine firings, the valves took only a few seconds to open.

Another main engine burn to put the spacecraft into a shorter orbit poses a risk to completing the science goals of the mission, mission scientists say.

Juno has been circling Jupiter since July 4. Staying in the longer orbit will not change the date of the next flyby, nor will it affect voting for which Jovian features to be imaged with JunoCam. It will allow the team to probe Jupiter’s magnetic field in more depth than originally planned. And it may also help to maintain the health of the spacecraft because Juno will spend less time exposed to the planet’s radiation belts, the team noted.

Climate,, Oceans,, Earth

Antarctic sea ice shrinks to record low

By Thomas Sumner 1:14pm, February 17, 2017
The Antarctic sea ice extent has reached a new low just two years after hitting a record high.
Health

See how long Zika lasts in semen and other bodily fluids

By Meghan Rosen 5:03pm, February 14, 2017
For most men infected with Zika, traces of the virus disappear from semen 81 days after symptoms begin. In other bodily fluids, Zika RNA is typically cleared even faster.
Climate,, Animals,, Conservation

Desert songbirds increasingly at risk of dehydration

By Susan Milius 5:11pm, February 13, 2017
With no efforts to curb climate warming, hot spots in the U.S. Southwest could turn uninhabitable for some songbirds.
Earth

Dual magma plumes fueled volcanic eruptions during final days of dinosaurs

By Thomas Sumner 2:00pm, February 9, 2017
Two magma plumes fueled the Deccan volcanic eruptions around the time of the dinosaur extinction 66 million years ago.
Animals,, Biophysics,, Cells

How hydras know where to regrow their heads

By Helen Thompson 10:00am, February 9, 2017
Regenerating pond animals called hydras inherit structural patterns from their original forms, researchers find.
Genetics,, Animals,, Agriculture

CRISPR used in cows to help fight tuberculosis

By Helen Thompson 1:00pm, February 3, 2017
Chinese researchers used a CRISPR/Cas 9 gene editor to make cows more resistant to tuberculosis.
Oceans,, Climate,, Animals

Cone snails wander in circles, lose focus with boosted CO2

By Elizabeth Eaton 5:00pm, February 2, 2017
Deadly cone snails wander in circles and become less capable hunters when exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide in seawater.
Microbiology,, Health

Why salmonella doesn’t want you to poop out

By Helen Thompson 3:00pm, January 27, 2017
Salmonella bacteria fight infection-driven losses in appetite to keep hosts just healthy enough for transmission.
Physics

Construction of tiny, fluid-filled devices inspired by Legos

By Emily Conover 9:00am, January 26, 2017
Tiny devices shuttle fluid around using reconfigurable Lego-like bricks.
Paleontology

Ancient otter of unusual size unearthed in China

By Meghan Rosen 5:13pm, January 24, 2017
Fossils unearthed in China reveal a newly discovered, now-extinct species of otter that lived some 6.2 million years ago.
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