Most of the images taken by the JunoCam camera from the Juno probe have been lost, NASA said. Worst of all, the team does not understand the reasons for what is happening. The malfunction seems to lie on the surface and is accompanied by overheating of the camera, but experts still do not understand why this happens.
The first bell rang on December 14, 2022 during the probe’s 47th flyby of Jupiter. As NASA explained today, the temperature of the JunoCam camera unexpectedly exceeded the norm after it was turned on and ready for work. The anomaly lasted 36 minutes, and almost all the pictures taken by the camera were obtained and transmitted to Earth.
During the 48th flyby of Jupiter on January 22, the anomalous overheating of the camera lasted as much as 23 hours. As a result, the first 214 images taken by the camera were lost. As soon as the temperature returned to normal, the device took 44 pictures of excellent quality. These included an image of the south pole of Jupiter from a distance of 124,735 km (see above). In this image, there are 84 km per pixel.
Ironically, the JunoCam is not considered a scientific instrument. It is installed on the probe to popularize astronomy and space programs, that is, for the amusement of the public. The camera was supposed to capture Jupiter’s mesmerizing upper cloud cover, which it did admirably. But over time, it turned out that the pictures taken by the JunoCam camera can also carry scientific information, so it has become an important tool for studying Jupiter and its satellites at close flybys.
For example, we are looking forward to amazing pictures of the moon Io with its active volcanoes. We have never had such close images of this moon of Jupiter. They were made during the previous 47th flyby of this planet.
An engineering data analysis is currently underway to determine why most of the images taken by the JunoCam were not captured. At this time, the JunoCam remains powered on and the camera continues to operate normally. The device will make its 49th flyby of Jupiter on March 1. Hopefully, NASA experts will deal with the problem.
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