NASA spacecraft enters safe mode after Earth flyby

ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer
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This 2010 artist's rendering depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft with Jupiter in the background. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL, File)

This 2010 artist’s rendering depicts NASA’s Juno spacecraft with Jupiter in the background. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NASA says its Jupiter-bound spacecraft is in safe mode soon after it used Earth as a gravity slingshot to hurtle toward the outer solar system.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Wednesday the Juno spacecraft is in contact with Earth, but is returning a low rate of data.

Spacecraft are programmed to go into safe mode when they encounter an unknown event.

Engineers were troubleshooting the problem, which occurred after Juno zipped past Earth in a momentum-gathering flyby to power itself toward Jupiter.

Juno was launched in 2011 and is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in 2016.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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