December 1, 1994
The Galileo spacecraft last month transmitted to Earth a new image of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9's collision with Jupiter last July showing the impact of comet fragment N.
At its peak brightness, the fragment N impact was about half as bright as the peak of the fragment K impact, or about 4 percent of the total brightness of Jupiter as seen through the Galileo camera's methane-band filter. Preliminary interpretations suggest that we are seeing primarily the meteor (bolide) phase of the event and little of the ensuing fireball, probably because this event was less energetic than others observed by Galileo.
Other Shoemaker-Levy data stored on Galileo's on-board tape recorder will be transmitted to Earth through January.
Data collection on the solar wind experiment is scheduled to continue through December 28. This experiment is designed to measure the charged-particle environment very near the Sun by measuring the effect of those particles on the radio signal beamed form Galileo to Earth.
As of December 1, the spacecraft has entered solar conjunction. The Sun-Earth-spacecraft angle is about 0.2 degree, meaning that the Sun lies almost directly between Earth and Galileo.
Galileo continues to operate normally, spinning at about 3
rpm and transmitting at 10 bits per second to ground stations of
the NASA/JPL Deep Space Network. The spacecraft is currently 891
million kilometers (535 million miles) from Earth, and 184
million kilometers (110 million miles) from Jupiter. It will
reach Jupiter on December 7, 1995, when its descent probe will
enter into the Jovian atmosphere and the orbiter spacecraft will
begin two years of observation and measurement of the planet, its
moons and magnetosphere.