International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Interplanetary Dust damage NASA’s Juno Mission  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Juno Mission, Deimos and Phobos

Mains level : NA

Juno

Introduction

  • Juno, a spacecraft launched by NASA in 2011, embarked on a mission to unravel the secrets of Jupiter and its moons.
  • En route to Jupiter, Juno encountered fast-moving dust particles, resulting in significant damage to its solar panels.

About NASA’s Juno Mission

Description
Launch Year 2011
Mission Objective Study Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, to gain insights into the origin and evolution of Earth.
Focus Areas
  1. Investigate Jupiter’s atmosphere composition and isotopic ratios.
  2. Study Jupiter’s magnetic field and its interaction with the atmosphere, leading to aurora formation.
  3. Explore Jupiter’s structure, atmosphere, and interior to understand early solar system conditions.
Earth Insights
  • Juno mission’s advanced instruments include the Microwave Radiometer, which measures atmospheric temperature and water content.
  • By comparing Jupiter’s composition with Earth’s, scientists infer similarities and differences in planetary origins.
  • Understanding the magnetic field and auroras on Jupiter contributes to knowledge about Earth’s own magnetic field and auroras.
  • Studying Jupiter’s structure provides clues about early solar system conditions and Earth’s evolutionary processes.

Dusts in Interplanetary Space

  • Calculating Dust Flux: Scientists harnessed Juno’s data to estimate the flux of dust particles encountered between 1 and 5 Astronomical Units (AU), shedding light on the density and distribution of interplanetary dust.
  • Exploring Dust Sources: Analysis suggested Mars’s moons, Deimos and Phobos, as potential sources of interplanetary dust, offering tantalizing clues to unraveling the enigmatic origins of these celestial particles.

How Martian Moons, Deimos and Phobos produce this Dust?

  • Micrometeorite Impacts: Micrometeorites, tiny yet potent dust particles, bombard Mars’s moons, creating ephemeral clouds of dust upon impact due to the absence of atmospheres.
  • Escape into Space: Deimos and Phobos, characterized by low gravity, facilitate the escape of dust particles into space, contributing to the formation of a dusty ring around Mars.

Insights from Observations

  • Gravitational Dynamics: This models incorporated gravitational effects, lunar shapes, and dust particle velocities, offering a comprehensive understanding of the dust dynamics within the Martian system.
  • Validation through Future Missions: Prospective missions to Deimos and Phobos hold the promise of validating the recent findings, shedding further light on the dusty realms of these enigmatic moons.

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