NASA's Jupiter bound Juno probe exited safe mode late Friday.
The exit occurred at 5:12 p.m., EDT, according to a statement from the Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio, the institutional home to Scott Bolton, principal investigator for the $1.1 billion NASA funded mission to study the atmospheric structure as well as the origins and evolution of Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet.
NASA's Junio spacecraft orbits Jupiter in this artist's illustration. Image Credit /JPL, Cal Tech
"(Juno) exited safe mode at 5:12 p.m. EDT today," SWRI reported. " The spacecraft is currently operating nominally and all systems are fully functional."
Launched on Aug. 5, 2011, the four ton deep space probe swept 350 miles over the southern tip of South Africa on Wednesday at 3:21 p.m., EDT, as part of a gravity assist strategy to reach Jupiter on July 4, 2016. On arrival, the camera laden Juno spacecraft is to maneuver into a polar orbit for a one year primary mission.
Soon after Wednesday's successfuly flyby, Juno entered safe mode, a condition that ensures the solar powered spacecraft can generate electricity while in a minimum functional status that allows ground control teams to sort out the difficulties. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, of Denver, is in charge of day to day Juno opertions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed the spacecraft and is responsible for navigation.
Soon after Wednesday's closest approach, a signal was received by the European Space Agency's 15-meter ground station antenna just north of Perth, Australia, indicating the spacecraft initiated an automated fault-protection action called "safe mode."
The spacecraft is pre-programmed to fault to safe mode if the flight computer perceives conditions on the spacecraft are not as expected.
Juno responded by turning off instruments and a few non-critical spacecraft components, and pointed the spacecraft toward the sun to ensure the solar arrays received power.
" The spacecraft acted as expected during the transition into and while in safe mode," SWRI said in the status report issued late Friday.
"The Juno science team is continuing to analyze data acquired by the spacecraft's science instruments during the flyby. Most data and images were down linked prior to the safe mode event."
Juno carries nine instruments developed by an international science team. Findings from the mission may ultimately help to explain the conditions under which the solar system formed.