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Paula Cleggett-Haleim

Headquarters, Washington, D.C April 19, 1991
(Phone: 202/453-1547)

Frank O'Donnell
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone: 818/354-5011)

RELEASE: 91-59

GALILEO ANTENNA DEPLOYMENT STUDIED BY NASA

Intensive analysis of the problem that prevented
deployment of the Galileo spacecraft's high-gain antenna is
continuing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL),
Pasadena, Calif. A "tiger team" of specialists from a
variety of engineering disciplines -- including industry
representatives -- has been assembled to study the problem
and how to correct it.

Galileo Project officials say they expect to carry out
considerably more analysis and ground tests before
determining a date to make another deployment effort. The
deployment difficulty poses no immediate problems for the
spacecraft, which otherwise is functioning properly.

The problem arose Thursday, April 11, 1991, when
commands to unfurl the umbrella-like antenna were issued by
Galileo's computers. The deployment action -- very similar
to opening a conventional umbrella -- was expected to be
concluded in less than 3 minutes.

Data from Galileo, however, indicate that the antenna
unfurled partially but did not completely unfold. One side
of the antenna appears to be deployed more fully than the
other side, suggesting that some restriction may be
affecting a portion of the antenna's movement.

-more -

Data that the JPL team has been studying include
readings from the spacecraft's sun sensor and from its spin
detectors, which offer engineers information on the current
state of the antenna. In addition, data from Galileo's
power system provide details on how the deployment attempt
proceeded and possible clues on the nature of the
restriction. Engineers say that continued analysis of the
data -- and tests of identical antenna equipment on the
ground -- are important to avoid any action that could
damage onboard equipment.

The 16-foot-diameter, high-gain antenna -- a modified
version of the design used in NASA's Earth-orbiting
Tracking & Data Relay Satellites -- has a surface made of
gold-plated molybdenum wire woven into a mesh. The mesh is
stretched across 18 graphite-epoxy ribs and connected with
quartz cords.

The antenna has been stowed behind a sun shield since
Galileo's launch in October 1989 to avoid heat damage while
the spacecraft flew closer to the sun than the orbit of
Earth.

The antenna deployment mechanism is driven by a set of
redundant motors which turn a worm gear. This gear pushes
a nut connected to levers which spread the antenna's ribs,
much as an umbrella is opened.

Unfurling of the antenna will enable Galileo to send
scientific data to Earth at much higher rates over greater
distances than it can with the two low-gain antennas it has
used since launch.

Project officials say Galileo will still conduct its
planned flyby of the asteroid Gaspra on October 29 even if
the antenna is partially deployed. In that event, pictures
and other data would be stored on the spacecraft's onboard
tape recorder and relayed to the ground when Galileo
approaches for its flyby of Earth in December 1992.
JPL manages the Galileo Project for NASA's Office of
Space Science and Applications.

- end -

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