back to article Look, we've sent space probes to Jupiter and Mars – makes sense to keep them going a while longer, says NASA

NASA is extending the missions of the Juno spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter and its moons and the Martian InSight lander probing for marsquakes until 2025 and 2022 respectively. Officials consulted an independent review panel of scientists and engineers for advice on what to do with the spacecraft, as both had passed …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    As well it should

    They're working and they're on site, why abandon them ?

    Given the time it took and the cost of sending them, the missions should continue for as long as they are in working order.

    Anything less would be a colossal waste of effort.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: As well it should

      In principle you are right, but these things do bind both money, communication time / signal transmission slots and manpower (= more money). If the money (and trained staff) are required elsewhere (like getting the space elevator finished or somesuch) they need to be assigned to that other project. It is a matter of getting the priorities straight and then maximising some sort of value (however that will be defined) by efficient ressource use. Still, same as you, I would argue that extending a mission while it delivers interesting (and that is the caveat!) science is an extremely efficient use of resources, should priorities allow for it (like having a race to the moon you want to win with a presidential deadline or whatever).

      1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

        Re: As well it should

        If it ain't broke don't fix it. The cost and time of sending 2 pieces of new kit to collect the data makes it a cheap investment.

      2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: As well it should

        "I would argue that extending a mission while it delivers interesting (and that is the caveat!) science is an extremely efficient use of resources"

        What was deemed 'interesting' 100 years ago is only part of what we find 'interesting' now. Even 50 years ago data on atmospheric CO2 levels collected were not front page news, now the record is essential to chart global warming against CO2 concentrations. The stacks of tapes of Voyager data was going to be thrown away, I believe due to lack of storage space, until rescued and used by someone. Mrs Thatcher wanted to destroy the local council records of rateable value for properties to prevent anyone going back, and forcing councils to use the 'Community Charge', despite pretty much every historian saying that it was essential to preserve the records.

        The UK's Ordnance Survey used to have a store of photographs of surveyors, theodolites, trig points etc in the field (photos were used to ensure the precise surveyed location was known to the nearest 1/10 of an inch). They were records of every town, village, city, the clothes people wore, haircuts, moustache fashions, cars, vans etc. from the 30's, 40's, 50's up to the days of GPS. Until the OS decided to destroy the lot. I met a person who tried to rescue them, and store a lot in his garage, but the OS was suspicious and just sent the lot into the furnace. All that social history gone because someone in authority thought it was not 'interesting'.

        I realise that there is a price to pay for collecting and storing information, but if we can collect such data after all that investment, and the cost of getting it again would be horrendous, I say we collect it, and see what can be done with it later.

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: As well it should

          One of the things I find quite worrying is the current trend to destroy old documents and information. Clearly it is not possible to keep everything but in the digital era it is far too easy to hit "delete" or have rules that purge.

          Even worse is old paper archives that are digitised and then destroyed only for the digital copy to be zapped because it contravenes GDPR.

          So much or our recent history is being lost because of data retention regulation and once it is gone you are not getting it back.

          There are some strange dichotomies:

          Social care, particularly adoption and child records have to be kept for n years beyond death.

          Medial records appear to be purged at 10 years without even a summary sheet.

          I fell foul of the latter when I needed an MRI scan and nobody knew if an implant I have was MRI safe or not. The records with what it was were long gone but if there was a summary page with the name of the procedure and what was fitted then there would be no issue.

  2. iron Silver badge

    > "Continued operation of its weather station

    From the data I've recived via the InSight Mars Weather API over the last 6 months that weather station is not functional or barely functional at best. Weeks and weeks of data are missing temperature, wind speed and wind direction measurements with only atmospheric pressure present. :(

  3. Down not across Silver badge

    Europa

    The probe will be directed to the planet’s rings and numerous moons, and is expected to make close flybys of targets Ganymede, Europa and Io.

    Careful with Europa. Wouldn't want it to break down and land there.

    1. Joe W Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Europa

      What about my Opa?

      sorry.

      ----> coat, exit stage right.

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Europa

      It'll be fine... We just need to make sure the probes not become self-aware first.

      Mines the one full of stars...

  4. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge
    Coat

    Hmm ...

    "Space Extenders" sounds like one of those DIY / home improvements TV shows from the late '90s.

    One where the victims deserving householders were lured away from their cramped suburban hell-hole on some unlikely pretence, by a soon-to-be-former friend.

    While they were away, a small gang of competent but quirky workmen (together with several teams of never filmed labourers) would transform their mediocre hovel under the guidance of a highly-talented, award-winning designer, using materials "donated" by avaricious local suppliers.

    The lucky residents would return to find that their humble abode had gained a conservatory, loft-conversion, something that involved 20 tons of concrete in the back garden, and a spire - which they would then have to pretend they liked.

    A recurring theme of the series would be trying to guess who would threaten to bury the irritating celeb presenter under the 20 tons of concrete that week.

    1. Getmo

      Re: Hmm ...

      "We heard the husband is a gamer, so we converted his den into a gaming room!" Complete with a gaudy mural of Mario painted on 3 walls, the doorknob being replaced with an 8 ball, and every time you flip the light switch an 8-bit "power up" sound plays through the speakers they installed in the ceiling. (Which have their only input wired to the switch in such a way that you'll never get your own music playing through those speakers.)

      Then again, the premise is interesting. You can get your house remodeled for free, but you get absolutely no input or insight into the changes being made. Those shows were entertaining at the very least for watching the home owner's reactions during the "reveal". They all obviously put on a smile for the TV cameras, but behind their eyes sometimes you'll see a definite "as soon as these people leave that crap is coming down off the walls and we're repainting." Or even better, after seeing what the 20 tons of concrete in the backyard was for: "Oh god... what have I done... why did I ever let these people near my property?"

  5. HildyJ Silver badge
    Pint

    Senior Review Panel

    The boffins have had their pints but now so let me offer some to the Senior Review Panel for enabling this continuation in the era of budget cuts.

    More projects should let us seniors review them. ;)

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