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Radio transmissions indicate Galileo's Jupiter atmospheric probe mission has succeeded, with confirmation that the probe signal has been received by the orbiter as the probe began parachuting into Jupiter's clouds.
"At 3:10 p.m. PST, we received data from the Galileo orbiter showing the radio link between the probe and Galileo had been achieved as planned," said Galileo Project Manager Bill O'Neil. The data we received is a status indicator to show us that the probe was working and that it was transmitting data to the mothership."
A sampling of data from the probe mission will start being played back to Earth Sunday.
Galileo engineers now await the start the of the spacecraft's critical 49-minute rocket firing that will start at 5:19 p.m. PST and is scheduled to end at 6:08 p.m. PST The engine burn will brake Galileo and allow it to enter orbit around Jupiter for its two-year mission.
The Galileo flight team reports that the orbiter spacecraft has successfully started firing its onboard rocket to brake into Jupiter's orbit.
Galileo engineers said the burn of Galileo's 400-Newton engine started as planned at 5:20 p.m. PST. The engine is due to shut down after a 49- minute burn at 6:08 p.m. PST.
Communications with the spacecraft will temporarily drop out when the burn is finished. This is normal and is due to the Doppler change in the radio signal caused by the cessation of the burn. Communications will be reestablished shortly after completion of the burn.
NASA's Galileo spacecraft has successfully entered orbit around Jupiter after its six-year trip through the solar system.
Project engineers report the spacecraft's rocket fired on time at 5:20 p.m. PST and stopped after 49 minutes as planned at 6:08 p.m. PST, enabling the spacecraft to enter orbit around the giant planet and begin its two-year mission of scientific studies.
Launched October 18, 1989, Galileo has traveled 3.7 billion kilometers (2.3 billion miles) in a looping path through the solar system to reach Jupiter, which is 934 million kilometers (580 million miles) away from Earth.