NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Suffered an Alarming Memory Glitch


A time lapse sequence of color-enhanced images of Jupiter from NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
Image: NASA

NASA’S Jupiter mission is back in action after suffering from an acute case of spacecraft amnesia, which caused the Juno spacecraft to temporarily lose access to data stored in its memory.

The NASA spacecraft resumed its regular operations on December 29, the space agency announced on Tuesday. Juno went into safe mode on December 17 due to a memory anomaly that took place following the spacecraft’s 47th close flyby of Jupiter and its moon Io.

After completing its flyby on December 14, Juno began the process of sending science data to ground control, but the downlink was disrupted. The solar-powered orbiter had difficulty accessing the memory stored in its onboardcomputer. The glitch was likely caused by Juno flying through a radiation-heavy area in Jupiter’s magnetosphere, causing a radiation spike that messed with its systems, NASA explained in its statement.

NASA’s mission control rebooted the spacecraft and put it in safe mode until the issue was resolved. Shortly after, ground control was able to recover the science data collected during the last flyby and successfully downlink it to Earth, with only a tiny bit of data being corrupted by the memory glitch, according to NASA.

“The science data from the solar-powered spacecraft’s most recent flyby of Jupiter and its moon Io appears to be intact,” NASA wrote in the statement. “Instrument recovery activities are now complete, and the spacecraft is functioning nominally.”

Juno is even gearing up for its next flyby of Jupiter on January 22.

The mission launched in 2011 and arrived at the Solar System’s largest planet in 2016. Since then, Juno has not only been providing us with stunning views of Jupiter and its swirling atmosphere, but has also added a plethora of data on the gas giant and its accompanying moons.

Juno was only supposed to last for about two years, but it’s the mission that keeps on giving planetary works of art that rival Van Gogh.

More: How Juno’s Breathtaking Jupiter Images Are Made



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