GALILEO EUROPA MISSION STATUS
16 Dec 1998
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
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The Galileo spacecraft is operating normally as it processes and sends to Earth science observations taken last week that were stored on the spacecraft's onboard tape recorder. While these observations are played back, Galileo's fields and particles instruments are making real-time observations of Jupiter's magnetosphere.
The data contained in the playback include a series of camera images of Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Saturn's moon Titan. Camera engineers are using these images to calibrate the camera's filters. Galileo's near-infrared mapping spectrometer transmits an observation of the star, Sirius, which will be used to calibrate some of the instrument's detectors.
Playback from the fields and particles instruments includes a five-hour recording of Jupiter's magnetosphere made as the spacecraft flew through the center of the "plasma sheet." This is a largely unexplored region of Jupiter's magnetosphere where the solar wind has a varying influence on Jupiter's magnetic field and plasma.
Playback of data will be interrupted on Friday so the spacecraft can perform a flight-path adjustment to ensure that Galileo is aimed correctly for its next Europa encounter on January 31, 1999.
The Galileo spacecraft has spent the past three years orbiting Jupiter and its moons, including Europa, gathering a wealth of information and pictures. Its primary mission ended in December 1997, and the spacecraft is currently in the midst of a two-year extension, known as the Galileo Europa Mission.
Contact: Jane Platt