The folks at NASA’s Southwest Research Institute are undoubtedly breathing heavy sighs of relief today after discovering that the space agency’s $1.1 billion Juno probe decided to turn back on after unexpectedly “falling asleep.”
The Juno probe launched back in 2011 and has spent the last two years orbiting Earth and Mars to gain enough speed to be hurled at Jupiter. The Juno Probe finally broke Earth’s orbit earlier this week, traveling at a speed of 12,000kph (or 7,457mph), which makes it one of the fastest objects ever created by humans. And then the damn thing randomly decided it was time to lapse into safe mode, thus cutting off access to researchers back on Earth.
The situation had to be incredibly frustrating for NASA. Not only is this probe ridiculously expensive, but it’s also in the middle of our solar system, which means there’s not a whole lot you can do to fix the problem.
Thankfully, the Juno probe turned back on early today, although we don’t have a confirmation on how. Here’s the official statement that the Southwest Research Institute gave The Register:
“The spacecraft exited safe mode at 4:12 p.m. CDT (5:12 p.m. EDT) earlier today. The spacecraft is currently operating nominally and all systems are fully functional. The safe mode did not impact the spacecraft’s trajectory one smidgeon.”
The Juno probe is expected to reach its Jupiter destination during the summer of 2016, at which point it will begin its intended mission of collecting data about the planet’s gravity, atmosphere, and more.
Good luck Juno, and please don’t take anymore cat naps.