NASA’s Juno spacecraft has developed engine trouble and it’s orbital re-alignment has been delayed.
According to a press release from NASA, the probe developed an issue in a set of valves that make up part of the spacecraft’s fuel pressurisation system.
“Telemetry indicates that two helium check valves that play an important role in the firing of the spacecraft’s main engine did not operate as expected during a command sequence that was initiated yesterday,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“The valves should have opened in a few seconds, but it took several minutes. We need to better understand this issue before moving forward with a burn of the main engine,” he added.
That maneuver was originally slated to take place on October 19, but with questions around the engine, Juno won’t be able to pull off the move until its next close-range flyby on December 11.
Once Juno does slip into that tighter orbit, though, it won’t need to rely on that questionable engine anymore — it can use its smaller thrusters for fine-grain movement.
Nevertheless, scientists are still very happy with the data Juno has been and will continue to gather.
“It is important to note that the orbital period does not affect the quality of the science that takes place during one of Juno’s close flybys of Jupiter,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno.