From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2001
As the Galileo flight team winds down on the year and prepares to relax a bit during the holidays, the Galileo spacecraft continues chugging away in Jupiter orbit, collecting data, playing back data, and preparing for the next close satellite flyby of Io on January 17.
On Friday, December 28, routine maintenance of the propulsion system is performed. On Friday, January 4, a new command sequence takes over control on the spacecraft and enhanced real-time science data collection begins. This starts a three-week period around the Io flyby in which these data will be collected continuously.
On January 1, as we celebrate the arrival of the New Year, Jupiter, and the Galileo spacecraft that circles it celebrates (very quietly) its arrival at the point in its orbit called opposition. This is where the planet (and spacecraft), the Earth, and the Sun are in a straight line, with Earth in the middle. This also represents the closest approach of Jupiter to the Earth, though still an impressive 626 million kilometers distant (389 million miles). Since Jupiter takes about 12 years to circle the Sun, compared to Earth's one year, oppositions happen about every 13 months.
Playback of data from the October Io flyby continues as the science teams both extend coverage and fill in gaps from observations previously returned. Scientists using the Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, the Solid State Imaging camera, the Photopolarimeter Radiometer, and the suite of Fields and Particles instruments (the Energetic Particle Detector, the Heavy Ion Counter, the Magnetometer, the Plasma Subsystem, and the Plasma Wave Subsystem) will expect portions of a wide variety of observations.
In addition, the steady collection of real-time data by the Magnetometer, the Dust Detector, and the Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer continues throughout the week.
The Galileo Flight Team would like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal readers and followers for sticking with us over the past year, and to extend our wishes for a safe and happy holiday season to one and all! And from the Galileo spacecraft itself, "Beep, beep, boop, beep!"
For more information on the Galileo spacecraft and its mission to Jupiter, please visit the Galileo home page at one of the following URL's:
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