A mystery that has stumped scientists for decades might be one step closer to solution after ESA tracking stations carefully record signals from NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it swings by Earth today.
NASA’s deep-space probe will zip past to within 561 km at 19:21 GMT as it picks up a gravitational speed boost to help it reach Jupiter in 2016.
During the high-speed event, radio signals from the 2870 kg Juno will be carefully recorded by ESA tracking stations in Argentina and Australia.
Engineers hope that the new measurements will unravel the decades-old ‘flyby anomaly’ – an unexplained variation in spacecraft speeds detected during some swingbys.
“We detected the flyby anomaly during Rosetta’s first Earth visit in March 2005,” says Trevor Morley, flight dynamics expert at ESA’s ESOC operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany.
“Frustratingly, no anomaly was seen during Rosetta’s subsequent Earth flybys in 2007 and 2011. This is a real cosmic mystery that no one has yet figured out.”
Sometimes There, Sometimes Not
Since 1990, mission controllers at ESA and NASA have noticed that their spacecraft sometimes experience a strange variation in the amount of orbital energy they pick up from Earth during flybys, a technique routinely used to fling satellites deep into our Solar System.
The unexplained variation is noticed as a tiny difference in the expected speed gained (or lost) during the passage.
The variations are extremely small: NASA’s Jupiter probe ended up just 3.9 mm/s faster than expected when it swung past Earth in December 1990.
The largest variation– a boost of 13.0 mm/s – was seen with NASA’s NEAR asteroid craft in January 1998. Conversely, the differences during swingbys of NASA’s Cassini in 1999 and Messenger in 2005 were so small that they could not be confirmed.
The experts are stumped.
The Latest on: Cosmic Mystery
- Here’s The Comic Book Character We Think Annette Bening Is Playing in ‘Captain Marvel’ on January 8, 2019 at 6:36 am
Annette Bening’s role in “Captain Marvel” has been a mystery since she was cast in the movie ... Phyla-Vell is rooted in the completely nuts cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. It starts with a charac... […]
- Here's Which Comic Book Character We Think Annette Bening Is Playing in 'Captain Marvel' on January 7, 2019 at 3:21 pm
Annette Bening's role in "Captain Marvel" has been a mystery since she was cast in the movie ... Phyla-Vell is rooted in the completely nuts cosmic side of the Marvel Universe, and her inclusion would ... […]
- 'Dark Matter' and 'Appalachian Skies' at Bays Mountain's planetarium this winter on January 7, 2019 at 8:10 am
KINGSPORT — Explore the mysteries and wonders of the universe this winter at Bays Mountain Park through two new planetarium shows: “The Dark Matter Mystery — Exploring a Cosmic Secret” and “Appalachia... […]
- Mystery and majesty of the Incarnation on January 7, 2019 at 1:35 am
A cosmic event led them to Jesus — could it be that the heavens themselves rejoiced at the coming of the Christ Child? And what does the mystery of the Incarnation mean for us human beings? Karl Rahne... […]
- Bring your detective skills for Corn Stock's first-ever murder mystery on January 5, 2019 at 10:24 am
The mystery begins as young author Peter Knight, played by Nathan Apodaca, is grinding out a murder story in an old cabin in Vermont where another author was murdered years before. A weird electrical ... […]
via Google News and Bing News