Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Galileo probe makes third and closest Io flyby
Posted: Feb. 23, 2000

NASA's Galileo spacecraft soars above Jupiter's volcanic moon Io in this artist's impression. Photo: NASA/JPL
NASA's Galileo spacecraft has scored another success by completing Tuesday morning's third and closest flyby of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io, dipping to only 199 kilometers (about 124 miles) above the fiery surface.

"We're thrilled that this flyby went well. If all continues as planned, this new data will round out our Io photo album and the wealth of information gathered during the Io flybys last October and November," said Galileo Project Manager Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The signal indicating that the flyby took place was received on Earth at 6:32 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The spacecraft's camera and other instruments were poised to capture the encounter with images and other observations. If all goes according to plan, the data will be transmitted to Earth over the next several months for processing and analysis.

Io lies close to Jupiter in a region bombarded by intense radiation from the giant planet. Because that radiation can wreak havoc with spacecraft instruments, components and systems, each Io flyby has kept Galileo team members on the edge of their seats. Galileo has already survived more than twice the radiation it was designed to withstand.

While approaching Io, the spacecraft experienced a radiation-related false reset of its main computer. Onboard software correctly diagnosed this as a false indication, and went ahead with the Io encounter unaffected.

During this latest flyby, Galileo's science instruments collected data about the abundant, ever-changing volcanic activity on Io, which will help scientists better understand volcanism on Earth.

The flyby took place while Galileo was about 811 million kilometers (504 million miles) from Earth.

Galileo has been orbiting Jupiter and its moons since December 1995. The spacecraft has successfully completed its two-year primary mission and a two-year extended mission, and is continuing its studies under yet another extension, called the Galileo Millennium Mission. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.

Explore the net
The Galileo Mission - official home page at JPL

Countdown to Io 27 - computer simulated views and other information about Galileo's encounter.

The Galileo Europa Mission - fact sheet, frequently asked questions and more.

Clickable Europa Maps - view close ups of the moon's surface

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