Galileo Spacecraft

filed under | space | technology

Share/Bookmark

Galileo was an unmanned spacecraft sent by NASA to study the planet Jupiter and its moons. Named after the astronomer and Renaissance pioneer Galileo Galilei, it was launched on October 18, 1989 by the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-34 mission. Galileo's launch had been significantly delayed by the hiatus in Space Shuttle launches that occurred after the Challenger space shuttle disaster. New safety protocols introduced as a result of the Challenger accident forced Galileo to use a lower-powered upper stage booster rocket, instead of a Centaur booster rocket, to send it from Earth orbit to Jupiter. Several gravitational slingshots, called a "VEEGA" or Venus Earth Earth Gravity Assist maneuver, provided the additional velocity required to reach its destination: Venus was flown by on February 10, 1990, and Earth twice, on December 8, 1990, and again on December 8, 1992. Along the way Galileo performed close observation of the asteroids 951 Gaspra (October 29, 1991) and 243 Ida (August 28, 1993), and discovered Ida's moon Dactyl. In 1994 Galileo was perfectly positioned to watch the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crash into Jupiter. Terrestrial telescopes had to wait to see the impact sites as they rotated into view. It arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995, a little more than six years later, via gravitational assist flybys of Venus and Earth. Despite antenna problems, Galileo conducted the first asteroid flyby, discovered the first asteroid moon, was the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, and launched the first probe into Jupiter's atmosphere. Of particular concern was the ice-crusted moon Europa, which, thanks to Galileo, scientists now suspect harbors a salt water ocean beneath its surface. On September 21, 2003, after 14 years in space and 8 years of service in the Jovian system, Galileo's mission was terminated by sending the orbiter into Jupiter's atmosphere at a speed of nearly 50 kilometres per second to avoid any chance of it contaminating local moons with bacteria from Earth. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]







wikisnap.com is not affiliated with or endorsed by wikipedia. wikipedia and the wikipedia globe are registered trademarks of wikipedia.org.
article content reproduced in compliance with wikipedia's copyright policy and gnu free documentation license
view our privacy policy and terms of service here