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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.

Materials,, Technology

Graphene Silly Putty detects pitter-patter of spider footsteps

By Emily Conover 2:00pm, December 8, 2016
Sensor made of graphene and Silly Putty can detect pulse, breathing — and spider feet.
Climate,, Oceans

Solar panels are poised to be truly green

By Thomas Sumner 11:00am, December 6, 2016
Solar panels are about to break even on their energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

Names for four new elements get seal of approval

By Emily Conover 1:35pm, November 30, 2016
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has approved the proposed names for the four elements added to the periodic table in December 2015.
Oceans,, Climate,, Animals

Coral die-off in Great Barrier Reef reaches record levels

By Sarah Zielinski 9:43am, November 29, 2016
Bleaching has killed more than two-thirds of corals in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef, scientists have confirmed.
Animals,, Neuroscience,, Psychology

Dogs form memories of experiences

By Laura Sanders 12:00pm, November 23, 2016
New experiments suggest that dogs have some version of episodic memory, allowing them to recall specific experiences.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: Vaginal vulnerability, disease double trouble and more

By Meghan Rosen 12:30pm, November 17, 2016
Puerto Rico cases of Zika suggest that the virus prefers women. And two new findings reveal more about Zika’s transmission and ability to survive outside the body.

In some ways, hawks hunt like humans

By Helen Thompson 10:57am, November 17, 2016
Raptors may track their prey in similar patterns to primates.
Clinical Trials,, Cancer,, Genetics

Chinese patient is first to be treated with CRISPR-edited cells

By Tina Hesman Saey 7:00am, November 16, 2016
Researchers used CRISPR/Cas9 to engineer immune cells that were then injected into a patient with lung cancer, the journal Nature reports.
Climate,, Animals

Skimpy sea ice linked to reindeer starvation on land

By Susan Milius 7:23pm, November 15, 2016
Unseasonably scant sea ice may feed rain storms inland that lead to ice catastrophes that kill Yamal reindeer and threaten herders’ way of life.
Climate,, Pollution

CO2 emissions stay steady for third consecutive year

By Thomas Sumner 8:30am, November 15, 2016
Global emissions of carbon dioxide from human activities will probably see almost no increase in 2016 despite economic growth.
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