Jan 12, 2021 - Science

InSight and Juno keep on trucking

Jupiter as seen by the Juno spacecraft. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Jupiter as seen by the Juno spacecraft. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's InSight lander on Mars and the Juno orbiter at Jupiter have new leases on life.

Why it matters: The spacecraft are expected to continue gathering data about their respective planetary targets during their newly extended missions, allowing scientists to learn more about seismic activity on Mars and turn their attention to the moons of Jupiter.

Where it stands: Juno's mission has been extended to September 2025 or whenever its life ends with a crash into Jupiter's atmosphere.

  • InSight will continue its mission to study Mars' geology and seismic activity from the Martian surface through December 2022.

What's next: Both missions are expected to make good use of their extended time at Jupiter and Mars.

  • InSight's extra two years will see the spacecraft collect more data on marsquakes to help create a long-term dataset that scientists can refer to for years to come, according to NASA.
  • Juno will broaden the scope of its studies to observe Jupiter's rings and moons including flybys of Ganymede, Europa and Io.

The big picture: NASA often extends the missions of its satellites and spacecraft in space if they're functioning well and still beaming home useful data.

  • The Mars Opportunity rover, for example, landed on Mars in 2004 for a 90-day mission, but the little spacecraft managed to keep roaming the Red Planet for nearly 15 years, after being granted multiple extended missions.
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