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NASA Shuts Down Janus Small Satellite Mission

Asteroid research

NASA Shuts Down Janus Small Satellite Mission

NASA has called off Janus, a mission to investigate binary asteroids using two small satellites. The two spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin and the University of Colorado Boulder, are expected to be stored at an agency facility until an application arises.

Daniel Scheeres, principal investigator for Janus at CU Boulder, said at a meeting on Wednesday that the smallsats are functionally complete and cost less than $49 million to develop.

Janus was supposed to be launched with the Psyche mission in late 2022. Psyche has since been delayed to October 2023, causing Janus to miss the asteroids it had sought to study. NASA’s planetary science division later elected not to pursue other options to continue Janus.

According to Scheeres, the PSD lacks the funds to commit to a new mission. He added that while future alternatives were not ruled out, NASA does not have a formal pathway to regularly review new launch opportunities.

Tom Statler, a PSD program scientist, explained at the meeting that the cancellation was an inherent risk of NASA’s Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration program, SpaceNews reported. Janus was selected out of a competitive process under SIMPLEx in 2019.

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Category: Space

Tags: Janus NASA Psyche Small Innovative Mission for Planetary Exploration small satellite space SpaceNews