This Week on Galileo
November 12-18, 2001
Routine Maintenance on the Galileo Spacecraft
Routine maintenance activities dot the schedule for the Galileo spacecraft
this week. On Monday the on-board tape recorder takes a break from playback
to perform some high-speed slews from end to end on the tape. This monthly
exercise helps keep the tape from sticking to the heads. On Friday the
propulsion system gets a small workout as a tiny amount of propellant is
flushed through the lines to keep it flowing smoothly and prevent corrosion
in the system. On Saturday a readout of engineering data from the Solid
State Imaging camera (SSI) will keep engineers apprised of the health of
While the Magnetometer, Dust Detector, and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer
continue their slow but steady collection of data, playback of recorded
data from the October 15 flyby of Io occupies the bulk of the week.
This week sees the completion of the playback of the recording made by the
Fields and Particles instruments while the spacecraft passed through the
torus of particles that coincides with Io's orbit. This playback is
followed by the return of a 1.5-hour recording made by the Fields and
Particles instruments centered on the closest approach of Galileo to Io.
This recording provides an intensive study of the detailed interactions in
the environment near this extremely active satellite. Since this flyby
occurred at a far southerly latitude of nearly 79 degrees, these data will
provide an excellent contrast with data acquired on previous flybys over
the equatorial regions. Combining all of this data should give scientists a
more complete picture of the full three-dimensional structure of the
magnetospheric region that surrounds Io.
The Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer data expected this week come from
thermal maps of the Pele and Loki volcanos, taken while those features were
in the dark. These NIMS images and the SSI pictures of the Pele region
should show the glowing hot-spots of recent and current volcanism and help
scientists pin down the locations of currently active regions.