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Spacecraft Stuck Making Long Laps

Sticky valves are causing NASA's Jupiter-circling spacecraft to make long laps around the gas giant.

Juno Spacecraft 58af122ee24fd

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) β€” NASA's Jupiter-circling spacecraft is stuck making long laps around the gas giant because of sticky valves.

It currently takes Juno 53 days to fly around the solar system's biggest planet. That's almost four times longer than the intended 14-day orbit.

After repeated delays, NASA decided late last week to forego an engine firing that would have shortened the orbit. Officials say the maneuver poses too much risk.

NASA says the quality of science won't be affected. But it will take more time to gather the data, given Juno's longer loops. The mission will have to be extended at tens of millions of extra dollars if scientists are to collect everything under the original plan. It's already a billion-dollar mission.

Juno has been circling Jupiter since July.

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