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This Week on Galileo?
This Week on Galileo
March 5 - March 11, 2001
DOY 2001/64-70

Galileo executes two routine maintenance activities and passes a geometrical milestone

This week sees the Galileo spacecraft execute two routine maintenance activities and pass a geometrical milestone. On Wednesday, the spacecraft performs a calibration of its gyroscopes, which help to determine which way the spacecraft is pointed. Over the past five years, exposure to the intense radiation environment near Jupiter has caused the electronic components that operate and measure the gyros to degrade and report incorrect data to the spacecraft computers. This calibration provides information that allows engineers to calculate numerical corrections to load into the spacecraft software so that the erroneous signals sent out by the gyros are seen as correct.

On Thursday, routine maintenance on the spacecraft propulsion system is performed.

On Sunday, the spacecraft reaches its most distant point from Jupiter during this orbit. This point, called apojove, is at a distance of 216.6 Jupiter radii, or nearly 15.5 million kilometers (9.6 million miles). This is about 40 times the separation between the Earth and the Moon. At this distance, it takes light 51 seconds to travel between the giant planet and the spacecraft!

This week's playback of the data stored on the tape from the December 28 flyby of Ganymede continues the series of observations begun last week. The Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) will complete the playback of its observation of Jupiter's south polar aurora and return an observation of a White Oval storm in Jupiter's atmosphere. The White Oval is the last remnant of three such ovals that have merged over the past two years. A portion of a global mosaic of Jupiter will also be returned. This mosaic will be compared with data from the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, which was observing Jupiter at the same time. The last in a series of three observations of Io will complete the infrared monitoring of that satellite's volcanic activity during this orbit.

The Solid State Imaging camera (SSI) will continue returning global color images of Io, in cooperation with the Cassini imaging experiment. Pictures taken of Jupiter's main ring system will provide information on the ring's vertical structure and patchiness, and will provide an interesting comparison to Cassini pictures taken at the same time, but from a different viewpoint. This should give scientists a unique stereo view of these fascinating features.

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Last updated 10/01/01.

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