Levin, however, did not address reports of a problem that placed the spacecraft in safe mode as it encountered the Earth.
Despite the problem, ``we believe we are on track as planned to Jupiter,'' said project manager Rick Nybakken of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the Juno mission, according to the Associated Press.
Safe mode reflects a spacecraft issue that requires intervention from ground based flight control teams. During safe mode, the spacecraft's function is restricted while ground control teams sort the issue out, then send commands returning the probe to normal operations.
Launched Aug. 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Juno followed a looping trajectory through the inner solar system that provided enough energy to reach the asteroid belt. The mission trajectory permitted the probe to be pulled back by the sun's gravity toward the Earth with a pair of spacecraft maneuvers for the significant Oct. 9 gravity assist.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems, of Denver, Colo, builder of the spacecraft, is responsible for day to day operations. The Juno mission was developed by JPL, which was permitted to provide overall mission management during the U. S. government shutdown but constrained from hosting news briefings or issuing mission statements using NASA websites. Levin spoke with Slooh.com from Denver, where he was attending an astronomy conference.
Juno is equipped with nine instruments to probe the big planet's atmospheric structure and whether it hosts a solid core. Findings may help explain the early phases of planet formation throughout the solar system