These Weeks on Galileo
December 24, 2001 - January 6, 2002
Happy Holidays from the Galileo Flight Team
As the Galileo flight team winds down on the year and prepares to relax a
bit during the holidays, the Galileo spacecraft continues chugging away in
Jupiter orbit, collecting data, playing back data, and preparing for the
next close satellite flyby of Io on January 17.
On Friday, December 28, routine maintenance of the propulsion system is
performed. On Friday, January 4, a new command sequence takes over control
on the spacecraft and enhanced real-time science data collection begins.
This starts a three-week period around the Io flyby in which these data
will be collected continuously.
On January 1, as we celebrate the arrival of the New Year, Jupiter, and the
Galileo spacecraft that circles it celebrates (very quietly) its arrival at
the point in its orbit called opposition. This is where the planet (and
spacecraft), the Earth, and the Sun are in a straight line, with Earth in
the middle. This also represents the closest approach of Jupiter to the
Earth, though still an impressive 626 million kilometers distant (389
million miles). Since Jupiter takes about 12 years to circle the Sun,
compared to Earth's one year, oppositions happen about every 13 months.
Playback of data from the October Io flyby continues as the science teams
both extend coverage and fill in gaps from observations previously
returned. Scientists using the Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, the
Solid State Imaging camera, the Photopolarimeter Radiometer, and the suite
of Fields and Particles instruments (the Energetic Particle Detector, the
Heavy Ion Counter, the Magnetometer, the Plasma Subsystem, and the Plasma
Wave Subsystem) will expect portions of a wide variety of observations.
In addition, the steady collection of real-time data by the Magnetometer,
the Dust Detector, and the Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer continues
throughout the week.
The Galileo Flight Team would like to take this opportunity to thank our
loyal readers and followers for sticking with us over the past year, and to
extend our wishes for a safe and happy holiday season to one and all! And
from the Galileo spacecraft itself, "Beep, beep, boop, beep!"