The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration Juno aircraft is a space probe orbiting Jupiter. Since it began orbiting the planet in early July, there have been no reported problems apart from expectedradiation that has slowly been eroding the probe. Now, NASA scientists report that there is an issue with two helium check valves onboard Juno.
On Thursday, Juno mission managers attempted to remote control the main engine of the apparatus when the two helium check valves did not respond within the expected time frame. It was the intention of NASA to fire the Leros 1b engine on the Juno next Wednesday. The next time that Juno would be in the optimal proximity of Jupiter to change its orbit via engine thrust would be in early December.
The Leros 1b engine fired without fault in early July. It is the primary source of thrust on the Juno, although smaller thrusters can be used to propel the probe. If the problem is not fixed, Juno will not be able to orbit the planet as many times as NASA expected.
NASA published a news releaseexplaining the troubles with the engine command sequence.
"The valves should have opened in a few seconds, but it took several minutes," said Juno project manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Rick Nybakken. "We need to better understand this issue before moving forward with a burn of the main engine."