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Return To Jupiter: The Galileo Mission

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Galileo Orbiter
Artist's rendition
NASA Press Release Image #P20772
The Galileo spacecraft consists of a probe to descend into the Jovian atmosphere and an orbiter to transmit pictures and other data from 11 scientific instruments.

In December of 1995, the probe descended at 160 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour) into Jupiter's clouds. For five hours before entry, the probe sent back information on lightning, radio emissions, and the magnetic field.

The Galileo orbiter has investigated the atmosphere of Jupiter and the surface composition of its satellites. After each orbit of Jupiter, the spacecraft's trajectory is gravity-assisted by encounters with one of Jupiter's moons. In this manner, there will be a total of 12 encounters with the moons of Jupiter, some within 500 kilometers (310 miles) of the surface.

Galileo imagery has revealed surface features on Europa (one of Jupiter's large icy moons) that suggested the presence of subsurface water. As a result, NASA is already planning a small Europa Orbiter for the near future to investigate the moon's icy surface and determine if an underlying liquid ocean exists.

For more information on the Galileo Mission: Project Galileo Home Page (NASA/JPL)

Europa Orbiter - planned future mission to Europa.

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