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This pair of pictures was taken by the Galileo spacecraft. It shows a dynamic eruption at Tvashtar Catena, a chain of volcanic bowls on Jupiter's moon Io. You can see that the location of lava from November 1999 to November 2000 has changed. Galileo really is a special spacecraft in that it allows us to see cool things like volcanoes on other worlds!
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA/JPL

Galileo - Still Earning Frequent Flyer Miles!
News story originally written on May 22, 2001

The Galileo spacecraft was launched in October 1989, aboard the shuttle Atlantis. Galileo has been orbiting Jupiter for more than five years and it is still going strong! "We're proud that this workhorse of a spacecraft has kept performing well enough that we can ask it to keep serving science a little longer," commented Dr. Jay Bergstralh, Acting Director of Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters.

"Galileo has already succeeded beyond expectations, and we have the opportunity to learn still more in coming months, but it is sad to see the end of the road up ahead," said Eilene Theilig, Galileo project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Exposure from Jupiter's intense radiation belts has impaired some of Galileo's instruments, but it is still producing valuable scientific results." Galileo has already survived 3 times the radiation exposure it was built to withstand. And its mission has already been extended twice. But, NASA is extending Galileo's mission one last time!

Galileo will execute 5 more flybys of Jupiter's moons. Then, in August 2003, Galileo will head straight for Jupiter for a direct impact and burn up as it plows through Jupiter's atmosphere.

Galileo already has a stellar list of accomplishments:

  • Data collected from Galileo has provided strong evidence that there may be liquid, saltwater oceans underneath the icy surfaces of Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
  • Galileo has been able to make extensive observations of Io's volcanic activity.
  • The first atmospheric probe to dive into Jupiter's atmosphere was delivered by Galileo in 1995.
  • Galileo also discovered the origin of Jupiter's Rings.
  • The first discovery of an asteroid to have a satellite was made by Galileo in 1993.
  • Galileo was the only direct observer of comet Shoemaker-Levy's impact into Jupiter.

    Truly, Galileo stands as one of the great successes of space exploration!

    Last modified May 17, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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