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Galileo probe
Part of Galileo Family
Galileo probe
Galileo probe
Credit: Manufacturer Image
American Jupiter atmospheric probe. Launched 1989.10.18 aboard the Galileo orbiter. Deployed from Galileo 13 July 1995; entered Jupiter atmosphere 7 December 1995.

Status: Operational 1989. First Launch: 1989-10-18. Last Launch: 1989-10-18. Number: 3 . Gross mass: 339 kg (747 lb).

NASA NSSDC Master Catalog Description

The Galileo mission consisted of two spacecraft: an orbiter and a probe. The probe was the first to enter the atmosphere of one of the outer planets.

Released from the orbiter on 13 July 1995 with an arrival of 07 December 1995, the probe had as its scientific objectives to: (1) determine the chemical composition of the Jovian atmosphere; (2) characterize the structure of the atmosphere to a depth of at least 10 bars; (3) investigate the nature of cloud particles and the location and structure of cloud layers; (4) examine the Jovian radiative heat balance; (5) study the nature of Jovian lightning activity; and, (6) measure the flux of energetic charged particles down to the top of the atmosphere. The probe was 1.25 m in diameter and 0.86 m in height. It was comprised of two major segments: a deceleration module and a descent module.

The deceleration module consisted of the fore and aft heat shields and their accompanying support structure and the thermal control hardware for the phases of the mission through entry into the atmosphere. The ablative forebody heat shield was made from a carbon phenolic material. The afterbody heat shield was composed of a phenolic nylon material. The descent module, which contained the science instruments and the subsystems required to support them, was the package which descended through the atmosphere by parachute.

During entry into the Jovian atmosphere, as the probe was subjected to temperatures near 14000 K, the forward shield was expected to lose around 60% of its 145 Kg mass. A drogue parachute was deployed, using a mortar, when the probe was at a velocity of about Mach 0.9 and a dynamic pressure of 6000 N/sq-m. Once the drogue chute was released, explosive bolts were fired to release the aft cover which in turn pulled out and stripped off the bag containing the main parachute. This entire process was designed to take less than 2 s.

The Galileo descent module differed from the Pioneer Venus Large Probe design, which included a sealed pressure vessel, in that the mass was minimized by venting the module and by protecting individual units as necessary with hermetically sealed housings. These housings were designed to survive to pressures of 20 bars and were tested to 16 bars.

Power to the probe was supplied by a LiSO2 battery with a capacity of about 21 A-hour. Mission requirements were for about 16.3 A-hour. The primary source of energy for pyrotechnic events was a set of four thermal batteries.

The duration of the probe's descent through the Jovian atmosphere was expected to last between 48-75 minutes, with the lower limit determined by the minimum required battery capacity and the upper limit by atmospheric pressure.

The probe entered the Jovian atmosphere as planned on 07 December 1995. The radio signal from the probe was received by the orbiter for 57.6 minutes.

Family: Outer planets. Country: USA. Launch Vehicles: Space Shuttle. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral LC39B. Agency: NASA. More at: 6513. Bibliography: 2, 6.



1989 October 18 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. Launch Platform: MLP1. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle.
  • Galileo Probe - . Mass: 339 kg (747 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo Probe. COSPAR: 1989-084E. Atmospheric probe; deployed from Galileo 7/13/95; entered Jupiter atmosphere 12/7/95. Entry into Jupiter Dec 7.
  • Galileo - . Payload: Atlantis F5 / Galileo [IUS]. Mass: 3,881 kg (8,556 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: JPL, NASA. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. Decay Date: 2003-09-21 . USAF Sat Cat: 20298 . COSPAR: 1989-084B.

    Deployed from STS-34 18 October 1989; entered Jupiter orbit 7 December 1995 and conducted investigations of Jupiter's moons, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Although the antenna failed to deploy, NASA developed workarounds and the spacecraft cruised the Jovian system for eight years. Its propellant then depleted, it was maneuvered to enter the Jovian atmosphere on September 21, 2003, at 18:57 GMT. Entry was at 48.2 km/s from an orbit with a periapsis 9700 km below the 1-bar atmospheric layer. The spacecraft continued transmitting at least until it passed behind the limb of Jupiter at 1850:54 GMT, at which point it was 9283 km above the 1-bar level, surprising Galileo veterans who feared it might enter safemode due to the high radiation environment. On its farewell dive, it had crossed the orbit of Callisto at around 1100 on September 20, the orbit of Ganymede at around 0500 on September 21, Europa's orbit at about 1145, Io's orbit at about 1500, Amalthea's orbit at 1756, and the orbits of Adrastea and Metis at 1825. Galileo was destroyed to prevent the possibility that its orbit would eventually be perturbed in such a way that it would crash on and biologically contaminate Europa, which was considered a possible place to search for life. Light travel time from Jupiter to Earth was 52 min 20 sec at the time of impact, and the final signal reached Earth at 1943:14 GMT.

  • Galileo Probe - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: STS. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo Probe. Decay Date: 1989-10-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 20297 . COSPAR: 1989-084xx. Apogee: 333 km (206 mi). Perigee: 297 km (184 mi). Inclination: 34.3000 deg. Period: 90.80 min.

1990 February 9 - .
1990 December 8 - .
1991 April 11 - .
  • Galileo antenna relese fails - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. Subsequent attempts to release it failed, reducing data return rate by an order of magnitude..

1991 October - .
  • Galileo passes by asteroid Gaspra - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. Galileo returned the first images of an asteroid..

1991 October 29 - .
1992 July 8 - .
  • Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Near-Jupiter Flyby (0.0008 AU), Comet Breakup - . Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe.

1992 December 8 - .
1993 August - .
  • Galileo passes by asteroid Ida - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. This was the second flyby of an asteroid..

1993 August 28 - .
1994 July - .
  • Comet Shoemaker-Levy crashes into Jupiter - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. Galileo was also the only vehicle in a position to obtain images of the far side of Jupiter when more than 20 fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere..

1994 July 16 - .
1995 July 12 - .
  • Galileo probe released - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. It entered Jupiter's atmosphere on 1995.12.07..

1995 October 11 - .
  • Problems with Galileo tape recorder - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. Problem forced workarounds and reduced data return..

1995 December 7 - .
1995 December 7 - .
1996 June 27 - .
1996 September 6 - .
1996 November 4 - .
1997 February 20 - .
1997 June 25 - .
1998 February 10 - .
1998 March 29 - .
1998 May 31 - .
1998 July 21 - .
1998 September 26 - .
1998 November 22 - .
1999 February 1 - .
1999 May 5 - .
1999 June 30 - .
1999 August 14 - .
1999 November 26 - .
2000 January 3 - .
2000 February 22 - .
2000 May 20 - .
2000 December 28 - .
2001 May 25 - .
2001 August 6 - .
2002 January 17 - .
2002 July 9 - .
2002 July 28 - .
2002 November 5 - .
2003 August 11 - .
2003 September 1 - .
2003 September 21 - .
  • Galileo ends mission and is commaned to burn up in Jupiter's atmosphere. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft Bus: Galileo. Spacecraft: Galileo probe. Decay Date: 2003-09-21 . USAF Sat Cat: 20298 .

    Although the antenna failed to deploy, NASA developed workarounds and the spacecraft cruised the Jovian system for eight years. Its propellant then depleted, it was maneuvered to enter the Jovian atmosphere on September 21, 2003, at 18:57 GMT. Entry was at 48.2 km/s from an orbit with a periapsis 9700 km below the 1-bar atmospheric layer. The spacecraft continued transmitting at least until it passed behind the limb of Jupiter at 1850:54 GMT, at which point it was 9283 km above the 1-bar level, surprising Galileo veterans who feared it might enter safemode due to the high radiation environment. On its farewell dive, it had crossed the orbit of Callisto at around 1100 on September 20, the orbit of Ganymede at around 0500 on September 21, Europa's orbit at about 1145, Io's orbit at about 1500, Amalthea's orbit at 1756, and the orbits of Adrastea and Metis at 1825. Galileo was destroyed to prevent the possibility that its orbit would eventually be perturbed in such a way that it would crash on and biologically contaminate Europa, which was considered a possible place to search for life. Light travel time from Jupiter to Earth was 52 min 20 sec at the time of impact, and the final signal reached Earth at 1943:14 GMT.


2003 September 21 - .

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