NASA's $1 billion Juno mission just got a much-needed extension. The space agency announced today that the Juno spacecraft will continue its scientific operations in Jupiter's system until July 2021.
This gives the Juno probe an additional 41 months to carry out its primary science objectives, NASA pointed out.
"An independent panel of experts confirmed in April that Juno is on track to achieve its science objectives and is already returning spectacular results," NASA officials wrote in a news release, adding that "The Juno spacecraft and all instruments are healthy and operating nominally."
This confirms the earlier reports that the Juno mission could be extended for another three years. As reported by the Inquisitr, NASA had originally planned to end the mission this summer, sometime after Juno's 13th flyby of Jupiter, slated for July 16.
Launched in 2011, the spacecraft has been orbiting the gas giant since July 4, 2016, gathering a wealth of data that has helped us understand more about the biggest planet in our solar system.
Scott Bolton, leader of the Juno mission and a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, chimed in on the importance of the big announcement.
"This is great news for planetary exploration, as well as for the Juno team."