MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Galileo Mission Status
January 4, 2000
Engineers say it appears that NASA's Galileo spacecraft has
chalked up its first successful encounter of the year 2000. This
encounter began when the spacecraft flew over Jupiter's icy moon
Europa on Monday morning, January 3, at an altitude of 351
kilometers (218 miles). Galileo then performed observations of
three of Jupiter's smaller moons -- Amalthea, Thebe and Metis --
at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Monday. The encounter was
capped off with several observations of Jupiter's volcanic moon
Io at about 4 a.m. PST Tuesday, January 4.
The spacecraft is operating normally, and engineers believe
all the observations were successfully recorded on Galileo's
onboard tape recorder. The recordings will be transmitted to
Earth starting on Wednesday, January 5.
During this flyby, it appears that Galileo's instruments
completed observations designed to detect any magnetic
disturbances triggered by electrical currents set up in a
possible ocean lying beneath Europa's icy crust.
While Galileo passed behind Europa during the flyby, its
radio signal to Earth was blocked. Scientists studied the signal
changes to learn more about the moon's ionosphere -- a region of
charged particles that surrounds it -- and any possible
Radiation levels during this encounter were about average
for the region. The only apparent effects of the radiation were
false indications of computer resets onboard the spacecraft, a
common radiation-related occurrence during previous Galileo
encounters. Onboard software successfully handled these errors,
and the flyby continued.
Since December 1995, Galileo has been orbiting Jupiter and
its moons, passing through a zone of intense radiation. In fact,
the spacecraft has already survived more than twice the radiation
it was designed to withstand, and it has beamed to Earth
unprecedented images and other information.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, CA, manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of
Space Science, Washington, DC.
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