National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Return to Solar System Exploration
Facebook Twitter YouTube Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr iTunes
Follow Us
Orbital Tour

The Journey to Jupiter
The Orbital Tour of Jupiter - Galileo's Prime Mission

On December 7, 1995 Galileo began its prime mission: a two-year study of the Jovian system.

Galileo travels around Jupiter in elongated ovals --- each orbit lasts about two months. By traveling at different distances from Jupiter, Galileo can sample different parts of the planet's extensive magnetosphere. The orbits are designed for close-up flybys of Jupiter's largest moons.

To keep track of Galileo's journey, each orbit is numbered, and named for the moon that the spacecraft encountered at closest range. During orbit "C-3" for example --- the third orbit around Jupiter --- Galileo flew near the moon Callisto.

The data collected on Jupiter and the moons are stored on the on-board tape recorder. During the rest of the orbit, the data are sent to Earth using the low-gain antenna. At the same time, measurements are made of Jupiter's magnetosphere and transmitted back to Earth.

The intriguing data gathered during the eleven orbits of the prime mission left many questions to be answered. Since Galileo obviously was capable of much more, its mission was extended.

The Probe Mission Events Diagram

Next: Extended Tours - GEM and the Millennium Mission Next

Mission Operations
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 9 Jul 2010