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"Galileo" - the first vehicle to enter Jupiter orbit and touch its atmosphere

20 years ago, the robot spacecraft "Galileo" was the first vehicle that entered the orbit of Jupiter, and later in its atmosphere probe. The vehicle was launched in 1989 and completed his mission in September 2003, after 14 years of flight, and 8 years of research of Jupiter.

Four biggest moons of Jupiter
Four Biggest Moons of Jupiter

The unit was named after Galileo, an Italian physicist, mechanics, astronomy, philosophy and mathematics. He was the first to use a telescope to observe celestial bodies, made a series of outstanding astronomical discoveries, and in particular discovered four moons of Jupiter in 1610.

In the 1970s, already near Jupiter flew drones Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. However, none of these devices entered the orbit of the largest planet in our solar system. After that, the study of Jupiter has become a priority of American scientists, and they have started to develop a new device in 1977, at a time when the missions of the first and second Voyagers were preparing for the start.

Initially, "Galileo" was launched as early as 1984 - but the launch was postponed several times for various reasons, in one case - because of the problems ensuing from the disaster with "Challenger".

Finally, the "Galileo" was successfully launched in October 1989. On its way to Jupiter, he flew past Venus and a few asteroids, one of which even detect natural satellite. In 1994 it observed and photographed how fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy crashed into Jupiter.

December 8, 1995 "Galileo" entered orbit around Jupiter, and on December 9, probe separated from the unit half a year ago, entered the planet's atmosphere. For 8 years, he made 35 passes around Jupiter.

Due to the success of the mission, scientists have collected a vast amount of data about our giant neighbor. In particular, the "Galileo":

  • first fixed ammonia clouds in the atmosphere of another planet
  • confirmed the presence of volcanic activity on Io
  • discovered that the currents arising from the plasma in the Io atmosphere Io are connected with the currents in the atmosphere of Jupiter
  • got indirect evidence of the presence of a liquid ocean under Europe ice 
  • discovered Ganymede's own magnetic field
  • gathered valuable data on the Jovian magnetosphere

On September 21, 2003 the mission of "Galileo" has been completed. The unit was sent into Jupiter's atmosphere at a speed of about 50 km/s in order to avoid entry of microorganisms from Earth to Jupiter's moons. It melted in the upper atmosphere.

Next machine designed to study Jupiter, "Juno" was launched in 2011 and will come into the orbit of the planet in the next year.

Digital cartography and GPS navigation 09-12-2015