Artist's impression of the Galileo probe arriving at Jupiter

Galileo probe

The Galileo probe to Jupiter and its moons was launched aboard the space shuttle Atlantis in 1989. After flybys of Earth, Venus and the asteroid belt, Galileo approached its final destination in 1994 and returned images of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashing into Jupiter.

A parachute probe, which separated from from the orbiter in 1995, gathered data on the planet's turbulent atmosphere as it descended. Galileo continued to orbit Jupiter and make close flybys of its main moons until it was intentionally destroyed in 2003.

Photo: Artist's impression of the Galileo probe arriving at Jupiter (NASA)

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Artist's impression of the Galileo probe arriving at Jupiter

About Galileo

The unmanned probe to Jupiter sees a comet crash.

About Galileo

Galileo was an American unmanned spacecraft that studied the planet Jupiter and its moons, as well as several other Solar System bodies. Named after the astronomer Galileo Galilei, it consisted of an orbiter and entry probe. It was launched on October 18, 1989, carried by Space Shuttle Atlantis, on the STS-34 mission. Galileo arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995, after gravitational assist flybys of Venus and Earth, and became the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter. It launched the first probe into Jupiter, directly measuring its atmosphere. Despite suffering major antenna problems, Galileo achieved the first asteroid flyby, of 951 Gaspra, and discovered the first asteroid moon, Dactyl, around 243 Ida. In 1994, Galileo observed Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9's collision with Jupiter.

Jupiter's atmospheric composition and ammonia clouds were recorded, the clouds possibly created by outflows from the lower depths of the atmosphere. Io's volcanism and plasma interactions with Jupiter's atmosphere were also recorded. The data Galileo collected supported the theory of a liquid ocean under the icy surface of Europa, and there were indications of similar liquid-saltwater layers under the surfaces of Ganymede and Callisto. Ganymede was shown to possess a magnetic field and the spacecraft found new evidence for exospheres around Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.Galileo also discovered that Jupiter's faint ring system consists of dust from impacts on the four small inner moons. The extent and structure of Jupiter's magnetosphere was also mapped.

On September 21, 2003, after 14 years in space and 8 years in the Jovian system, Galileo's mission was terminated by sending it into Jupiter's atmosphere at a speed of over 48 kilometers per second (30 mi/s), eliminating the possibility of contaminating local moons with terrestrial bacteria.

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