PASADENA, Calif. (UPI) — NASA says its Juno spacecraft successfully executed a second deep space maneuver course correction to refine the Jupiter-bound craft’s trajectory.
The 30-minute firing of its main engine last Friday set the stage for a gravity assist from a flyby of Earth on Oct 9, 2013, sending Juno on its way to arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, the space agency said Tuesday.
Next year’s flyby will boost Juno’s velocity by 16,330 mph and place the spacecraft on its final flight path for Jupiter.
A first deep space maneuver of comparable duration and velocity change, was conducted Aug. 30.
“It feels like we hit back-to-back home runs here with the near-flawless propulsion system performance seen during both” maneuvers, Juno Project Manager Rick Nybakken of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said.
“These successes move us closer to being ready for our most critical mission event, the Jupiter orbit insertion main engine burn in July 2016.”
When it arrives at Jupiter, Juno will circle Jupiter 33 times, from pole to pole, to probe beneath the gas giant’s obscuring cloud cover to collect data on Jupiter’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere, and look for a potential solid planetary core, NASA said.