This Week on Galileo: Spacecraft Settles Down After Io Flyby
21 Jan 2002
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
January 21-27, 2002
This week sees the quiet murmur of cruise activities overtake the Galileo spacecraft once again. The hectic week of the encounter, the safing, and the recovery has passed, and the flight team turns its attention towards the next and final target, Amalthea, in November.
On Monday, another opportunity to execute an orbit trim maneuver passes unused. A maneuver opportunity is scheduled 3 to 4 days after a close flyby to clean up any inaccuracies in the trajectory that may have accumulated during the flyby. The final placement of the spacecraft at this encounter was just 1.5 kilometers (less than one mile) higher than our targeted 100 kilometers (62 miles), and just 5 seconds later than desired, which was well within the limits of our uncertainties. We are now assured that, even if we perform no other maneuvers, the Galileo spacecraft will correctly plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere in September 2003, fulfilling our responsibilities for planetary protection of Europa. Galileo's discovery of a probable subsurface ocean of liquid water on that icy moon leads to the possibility that that environment could harbor life. It is our responsibility, therefore, to make sure that the unsterilized Galileo spacecraft cannot possibly crash into that satellite in the future, potentially contaminating the environment with terrestrial microorganisms.
Also on Monday, routine maintenance of the spacecraft propulsion system is performed.
Throughout the week the Fields and Particles instruments (Dust Detector, Energetic Particle Detector, Heavy Ion Counter, Magnetometer, Plasma Subsystem, and Plasma Wave Subsystem) are collecting continuous real-time science. This continues a survey that began January 4 and will extend until Sunday. At that time, the magnetospheric survey will stop, and playback of the data that was recorded during last week's flyby will begin On Friday, the Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer turns its power on and begins another extended examination of the hydrogen gas that fills the space between the planets.
For more information on the Galileo spacecraft and its mission to Jupiter, visit the Galileo home page.