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Galileo
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Galileo
Galileo Mission to Venus Galileo Mission to Earth Galileo Mission to Asteroids Galileo Mission to Comets Galileo Mission to Jupiter

Goals: Galileo was designed to make the first study of Jupiter and its moons and magnetosphere from orbit. The orbiter carried 10 science instruments and a atmospheric probe.

Accomplishments: Like the famed astronomer for which it was named, the Galileo spacecraft logged quite a few firsts during its 14-year mission to Jupiter. Among its discoveries: an intense radiation belt above Jupiter's cloud tops, helium in about the same concentration as the Sun, extensive and rapid resurfacing of the moon Io because of volcanism, and evidence for liquid water oceans under the moon Europa's icy surface.

The orbiter carried a small probe that became the first to sample the atmosphere of a gas planet. The probe measured temperature, pressure, chemical composition, cloud characteristics, sunlight and energy internal to the planet, and lightning. During its 58-minute life, the probe penetrated 200 km (124 miles) into Jupiter's violent atmosphere before it was crushed, melted, and/or vaporized by the pressure and temperature of the atmosphere.

   

Banner says visit the Galileo Legacy Site
Key Dates
18 Oct 1989:  Launch (16:53:40 UT)
7 Dec 1995:  Probe Descent (22:04 UT - 23:02 UT)
21 Sep 2003:  Jupiter Impact (18:57:18 UT)
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Galileo Facts Galileo was launched from the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The spacecraft traveled more than 4.6 billion km (about 2.8 billion miles) during its 14-year mission.

Galileo was named in honor of Galileo Galilei (above), who discovered the largest moons of Jupiter in 1610.

The spacecraft was the first to orbit a gas giant planet.

Galileo plunged into Jupiter's crushing atmosphere on Sept. 21, 2003. The spacecraft was deliberately destroyed to protect one of its own discoveries - a possible ocean beneath the icy crust of the moon Europa.
Science & Technology Features
People Spotlight
Fran Bagenal Fran Bagenal
"I really enjoy my involvement in space missions -- it is the best part of my job -- Voyager, Galileo, Deep Space 1, New Horizons and Juno." Read More...
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Last Updated: 30 Aug 2013