Nasa’s Juno spacecraft recently conducted its 48th close flyby of Jupiter on January 22, but data indicates that the JunoCam imager faced another anomaly similar to one it experienced during its previous flyby. During the last flyby, the camera experienced a temperature rise after being powered on for the flyby, but the science data from the flyby and the moon Io was still intact.
However, during the 48th flyby, the issue persisted for a longer period of time, leading to the first 214 JunoCam images planned for the flyby becoming unusable. The probe experienced the issue for 23 hours compared to 36 minutes during the December 2022 close pass.
“As with the previous occurrence, once the anomaly that caused the temperature rise cleared, the camera returned to normal operation and the remaining 44 images were of good quality and usable,” Nasa said in a statement.
The JunoCam team is now evaluating the engineering data acquired during the 47th and 48th flybys and investigating the root cause of the anomaly to develop mitigation strategies. The next flyby of Jupiter is set to occur on March 1.
The Juno spacecraft, named after Jupiter’s wife, the goddess Juno, was launched in 2011 and reached Jupiter in 2016. Since then, the spacecraft has been scanning the planet to understand its origin and evolution by peering through its dense cloud cover. Despite facing anomalies, the spacecraft has been successful in its mission so far, even capturing an asteroid streaking through Jupiter’s upper atmosphere in 2020.