The history of Jupiter exploration began with the invention of the telescope in the early seventeenth century. The
first telescopes were not very powerful, and the views were not very sharp. But over the next three hundred years,
the telescope was continually improved, and became our primary tool for observing the stars and planets.
Human explorers have taken dangerous journeys to the far corners of Earth and even to the Moon. But to explore
the outer reaches of the solar system, we send spacecraft equipped with cameras and scientific instruments. In a way,
we send extensions of ourselves on these missions.
The cameras becomes our "eyes" to view the other planets up close. Special instruments "see" in infrared,
ultraviolet, and other wavelengths of light --- revealing what is invisible to our eyes.
Today, we have very large and powerful telescopes. The Hubble Space Telescope,
orbiting above Earth's atmosphere, can see far into space. Yet, the planets of our Solar System
still hold many mysteries to investigate. NASA's first planetary missions were "fly-bys." The
spacecraft simply zoomed by a planet taking pictures or gathering data, and then continued on ---
out into deep space.
But orbiting a planet gives us a chance to learn a great deal more about it. The Viking
orbiters at Mars and the Magellan orbiter at Venus studied planets in the inner solar system.
Galileo is the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter in the outer solar system.
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