NASA’s Juno spacecraft just can’t catch a break. First it was a pair of valves tied to its fuel pressurization system not quite working properly. That affected its orbital reduction maneuver, but the Juno team planned to turn on all the instruments during yesterday’s close fly. Instead, Juno entered safe mode.
“At the time safe mode was entered, the spacecraft was more than 13 hours from its closest approach to Jupiter,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We were still quite a ways from the planet’s more intense radiation belts and magnetic fields. The spacecraft is healthy and we are working our standard recovery procedure.”
NASA is still investigating why, but the spacecraft is healthy. Entering safe mode isn’t a bad thing. It’s what the spacecraft is supposed to do if something unexpected happens. One side effect of entering safe mode is none of the science instruments were on during yesterday’s flyby. That means no data. No pictures.
Speaking of pictures, the Juno team also talked about JunoCam during this week’s update. I didn’t know this, but the Juno team doesn’t have an image processing team. “We took a leap of faith that the public would step up and help us generate images of Jupiter from the raw data,” said Candy Hansen, one of JunoCam’s imaging scientists.
Hansen says the team’s expectations for JunoCam’s public outreach “are being exceeded, and we’re just getting started.”
Some of the images coming from volunteers have a little artistic flair to them. Like this smiley face image of Jupiter from Randy Ahn. The original view shows just half of Jupiter being lit. Randy copied and flipped the half-smile.
Here’s another one from Alex Mai showing the same area with a different color enhancement.
Hansen calls it “citizen science at its best.”
“They are experimenting with different color enhancements, different highlights or annotations than we would normally expect. They are identifying storms tracked from Earth to connect our images to historical record,” Hansen added.
Head over to the JunoCam page to see images as volunteers create them. So far, we have only images from the August 27th flyby. Because Juno couldn’t execute its orbital reduction maneuver, we’ll be waiting until at least December 11th for new imaging data. And a little longer for volunteers to assist the Juno team in processing them.