NASA Is Giving Its $1bn Jupiter Mission A Critical New Lease Of Life

For the past two years, NASA's Juno probe has studied planet Jupiter like no spacecraft before it. The $1 billion mission has peeled back the giant planet's thick cloud layers, searched for an elusive core, and returned dazzling images of colossal storms and chaotic cloud bands.But all good things must come to an end, and Juno is no exception. NASA planned to destroy the tennis-court-size robot by plunging it into Jupiter's clouds sometime after July 2018. The rationale is similar to the Cassini probe's recent demise: Jupiter's icy moon Europa may be habitable to alien life, so carefully and deliberately ending the mission would prevent Juno from accidentally crashing into that moon. This would keep Europa's ocean — which may have twice as much water as exists on Earth — from getting contaminated by any earthly microbes stuck to Juno. However, the probe's fiery end is now pushed back by at least three years to July 2021, according to NASA sources. Scientific work on the mission will continue through September 2022.

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1 Billion? We haven’t seen the bottoms of our ocean yet we commit $1 Billion to a planet we will never walk on/visit...

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