GALILEO - COUNTDOWN TO EUROPA
September 22, 1998
It is now 3 days and 12 hours to the Galileo spacecraft's next encounter
A special Countdown to Europa home page is available on the Galileo
Launched in October 1989, Galileo entered orbit around Jupiter in December
1995, and completed its primary 2 year orbital tour around the
solar system's largest planet. Galileo has embarked on a two-year extended
mission, called Galileo Europa Mission (GEM). During GEM, Galileo will make 8 close flybys of Europa, four flybys of Callisto, and two close encounters with Io provided the spacecraft is still alive.
The sixth encounter for GEM is scheduled for Europa on September 26, 1998 at 03:54 UT. With a diameter of 3,138 km, Europa is slighty
smaller than our own Moon and is the smoothest object in the solar system.
On Galileo's previous encounters with Europa, evidence of a possible ocean
were found, including the discovery of ice volcanoes (none active),
probable icebergs, and salt deposits on the surface. Galileo will continue
its attempt to find additional evidence of a liquid ocean underneath Europa's
icy crust and look for signs of active volcanism on the moon's young surface.
On the upcoming encounter, the spacecraft will pass by Europa at a distance of 3,582 km, which is over 200 times closer than Voyager's closest approach.
Galileo will also take in observations of Jupiter's rings and south pole aurora,
and of Io's torus.
Highlights of the Countdown to Europa home page:
o A virtual flyby of Europa with computer-generated approach images of
Jupiter and Europa displayed at the top of the home page. These images
are all updated every 5 minutes.
o Flyby animation of the Europa 17 flyby.
o Daily Galileo status reports reporting on the Europa 17 encounter.
o Fact sheets and Europa, Callisto and Io.
o A detailed timeline of events and sequences that the spacecraft will
perform for the Europa 17 encounter.
o Voyager 1 & 2 images of Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io.
o Hubble Space Telescope images of the Galilean satellites.
o Pioneer 10 & 11 images of Callisto, Ganymede, Europa and Io.