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NASA Facts Galileo Mission to Jupiter

NASA Facts Galileo Mission to Jupiter

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Published by Bob Andrepont
NASA Facts booklet on Galileo mission to Jupiter.
NASA Facts booklet on Galileo mission to Jupiter.

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Jan 02, 2011
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 NASA's Galileo spacecraft continues to make dis-coveries about the giant planet Jupiter, its moons andits surrounding magnetic environment after more thanfive years in orbit around Jupiter. The mission wasnamed for the Italian Renaissance scientist GalileoGalilei, who dis-covered Jupiter'smajor moons in1610.
Mission Overview
Galileo's prima-ry mission atJupiter began whenthe spacecraftentered into orbitaround Jupiter inDecember 1995,and its descent probe, which had been released fivemonths earlier,dove into the giant planet's atmos- phere. The primarymission included a23-month, 11-orbittour of the Joviansystem, including10 close encoun-ters of Jupiter'smajor natural satellites, or moons.Although the primary mission was completed inDecember 1997, the mission has been extended threetimes to take advantage of the spacecraft's durabilitywith 24 more orbits. The extensions have enabledadditional encounters with all four of Jupiter's major moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, as well asthe small moon Amalthea. Galileo will crossAmalthea’s orbital plane a second time before making amission-ending plunge into Jupiter'satmosphere inSeptember 2003.Galileo was thefirst spacecraft ever to measure Jupiter'satmosphere directlywith a descent probe, and the firstto conduct long-term observations of the Jovian systemfrom orbit aroundJupiter. It found evi-dence for subsurfaceliquid layers of salt-water on Europa,Ganymede andCallisto, and it doc-umented extraordi-nary levels of vol-canic activity on Io. During the interplanetary cruise,Galileo became the first spacecraft to fly by an aster-oid and the first to discover the moon of an asteroid.It was also the only direct observer as fragments from
Galileo Mission to Jupiter
National Aeronautics andSpace Administration
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
California Institute of TechnologyPasadena, CA91109
Ice rafts on Jupiter’s moon Europa, photographed by the Galileo spacecraft dur-ing a flyby February 20, 1997.
the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet slammed into Jupiter inJuly 1994.
The Galileo spacecraft and its two-stageInertial Upper Stage (IUS) were carried into Earthorbit on October 18, 1989 by space shuttle Atlantis onmission STS-34. The solid-fuel upper stage thenaccelerated the spacecraft out of Earth orbit towardthe planet Venus for the first of three planetary flybys,or "gravity assists," designed to boost Galileo towardJupiter. In a gravity assist, the spacecraft flies closeenough to a planet to be propelled by its gravity, cre-ating a "slingshot" effect for the spacecraft. TheGalileo mission had originally been designed for adirect flight of about 3-1/2 years to Jupiter, using a planetary three-stage IUS. When this vehicle wascanceled, plans were changed to use a liquid-fuelCentaur upper stage. Due to safety concerns after theChallenger accident, NASAcancelled use of theCentaur on the space shuttle, and Galileo was movedto the two-stage IUS; this, however, made it impossi- ble for the spacecraft to fly directly to Jupiter. Tosave the project, Galileo engineers designed a newand remarkable six-year interplanetary flight pathusing planetary gravity assists.
Venus and Earth flybys.
After flying past Venusat an altitude of 16,000 kilometers (nearly 10,000miles) on February 10, 1990, the spacecraft swung past Earth at an altitude of 960 kilometers (597 miles)on December 8, 1990. The spacecraft returned for asecond Earth swingby on December 8, 1992, at analtitude of 303 kilometers (188 miles). With this,Galileo left Earth for the third and final time andheaded toward Jupiter.The flight path provided opportunities for scientif-ic observations. At Venus, scientists obtained the firstviews of mid-level clouds and gained new informa-tion about the atmosphere's dynamics. They alsomade many Earth observations, mapped the surface of Earth's Moon, and observed its north polar regions.Because of the modification in Galileo's trajecto-ry, the spacecraft was exposed to a hotter environ-ment than originally planned. To protect it from theSun, project engineers devised a set of sun shades and pointed the top of the spacecraft toward the Sun, withthe umbrella-like high-gain antenna stowed until wellafter the first Earth flyby in December 1990. Flightcontrollers stayed in touch with the spacecraft2
Low-gain antennaPlasma-wave antennaMagnetometer sensorsSun shieldsExtreme ultravioletspectrometer Star scanner (at rear)ThrustersRadioisotopethermoelectricgeneratorsProbe relayantennaDust counter (at rear)Descentprobe
Scan platform:
Ultraviolet spectrometer Imaging cameraNear-infrared mapping spectrometer Photopolarimeter 
Spinning section of spacecraft Non-spinning section
Energetic-particle detector 
through a pair of low-gain antennas, which send andreceive data at a much slower rate.
High-gain antenna problem.
The spacecraft wasscheduled to deploy its 4.8-meter-diameter (16-foot)high-gain antenna in April 1991 as Galileo movedaway from the Sun and the risk of overheating ended.The antenna, however, failed to deploy fully.Aspecial team performed extensive tests anddetermined that a few (probably three) of the anten-na's 18 ribs were held by friction in the closed posi-tion. Despite exhaustive efforts to free the ribs, theantenna would not deploy. From 1993 to 1996,extensive new flight and ground software was devel-oped, and ground stations of NASA's Deep Space Network were enhanced in order to perform the mis-sion using the spacecraft's low-gain antennas.
Asteroid flybys.
Galileo became the first space-craft ever to encounter an asteroid when it passedGaspra on October 29, 1991. It flew within just 1,601kilometers (1,000 miles) of the stony asteroid's center at a relative speed of about 8 kilometers per second(18,000 miles per hour). Pictures and other datarevealed a cratered, complex, irregular body about 20 by 12 by 11 kilometers (12.4 by 7.4 by 6.8 miles),with a thin covering of dirt-like "regolith" and a pos-sible magnetic field.On August 28, 1993, Galileo flew by a secondasteroid, this time a larger, more distant asteroidnamed Ida. Ida is about 55 kilometers (34 miles) long, by 20 and 24 kilometers (12 by 15 miles). LikeGaspra, Ida may have a magnetic field. Scientistsmade a dramatic discovery when they found that Ida boasts its own moon, making it the first asteroidknown to have a natural satellite. The tiny moon,named Dactyl, has a diameter of only about 1.5 kilo-meters in diameter (less than a mile). Scientists stud-ied Dactyl's orbit in order to estimate Ida's density.
Comet event.
The discovery of CometShoemaker-Levy 9 in March 1993 provided an excit-ing opportunity for Galileo's science teams and other astronomers. The comet was breaking up as it orbitedJupiter and was headed to dive into the giant planet'satmosphere in July 1994. The Galileo spacecraft,approaching Jupiter, was the only observation plat-form with a direct view of the impact area on Jupiter'sfar side. Despite the uncertainty of the predictedimpact times, Galileo team members pre-programmedthe spacecraft's science instruments to collect dataand were able to obtain spectacular images of thecomet impacts.
On July 13, 1995, Galileo'sdescent probe, which had been carried aboard the par-ent spacecraft, was released and began a five-monthfreefall toward Jupiter. The probe had no engine or thrusters, so its flight path was established by point-ing of the Galileo orbiter before the probe wasreleased. Two weeks later, Galileo used its 400-new-ton main rocket engine for the first time as it readjust-ed its flight path to arrive at the proper point atJupiter.Arrival day on December 7, 1995, turned out to be an extremely busy 24-hour period. When Galileofirst reached Jupiter and while the probe was stillapproaching the planet, the orbiter flew by two of Jupiter's major moons - Europa and Io. Galileo passedEuropa at an altitude of about 33,000 kilometers(20,000 miles), while the Io approach was at an alti-tude of about 900 kilometers (600 miles). About four hours after leaving Io, the orbiter made its closestapproach to Jupiter, encountering 25 times more radi-ation than the level considered deadly for humans.
Descent probe.
Eight minutes later, the orbiter started receiving data from the descent probe, whichslammed into the top of the Jovian atmosphere at acomet-like speed of 170,000 kilometers per hour (106,000 miles per hour). In the process the probewithstood temperatures twice as hot as a layer rough-ly corresponding to the Sun's surface. The probeslowed by aerodynamic braking for about two min-utes, then deployed its parachute and dropped its heatshield.Like the other gas giant outer planets, Jupiter hasno solid surface. The wok-shaped probe kept trans-mitting data for nearly an hour as it parachuted downthrough Jupiter's atmosphere. Temperatures exceeding150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit) eventu-ally caused electronics to fail at a depth correspond-ing to about 22 times sea-level air pressure on Earth,a pressure more than double what had been the mis-sion objective. That descent took the probe about 130kilometers (81 miles) below the level correspondingto Earth sea-level air pressure. As it descended, the probe relayed information to the orbiter about sun-light and heat flux, pressure, temperature, winds,3

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