July 1, 1994
The Galileo spacecraft is now 246 million kilometers (153 million miles) from Jupiter, and in about two weeks it will begin observing the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with the night side of Jupiter.
Galileo will be the only observer in a position directly to image the impact sites, which will be out of view of Earth until some time after the impacts. The data will be recorded on the spacecraft's onboard tape recorder for later transmission to Earth. Galileo's camera, near-infrared mapping spectrometer, ultraviolet spectrometer, photopolarimeter radiometer and plasma wave instrument will collect data during various impact events.
Galileo completed its playback of data from the August 1993 encounter with the asteroid Ida -- and its discovery of Ida's moon -- late in June, and high-resolution images of the moon were processed and published.
In July 1995 the spacecraft will release the Jupiter atmospheric entry probe. From that point, the orbiter and probe will fly independently to Jupiter. On December 7, 1995, the probe will enter the atmosphere and relay its data to the orbiter, which will maneuver into an orbit around Jupiter that day. The orbiter will then collect data about Jupiter, its major satellites and the magnetosphere for the next two years.
The Galileo spacecraft is operating normally, spinning at
about 3 rpm and transmitting data at 10 bits per second. It is
moving toward its rendezvous with Jupiter at a speed (relative to
the Sun) of about 10.4 kilometers per second (23,400 mph).