Today's Headlines - January 6, 2003
ITS END NEAR, GALILEO TAKES NASA ON WILD RIDE
from The Washington Post
CAPE CANAVERAL -- NASA's Galileo spacecraft, crippled by old age,
from hellish doses of radiation and nearly out of fuel, has completed
last major objective, all but closing out one of the most successful
voyages of planetary exploration ever.
In November, seven years after braking into orbit around the solar
largest planet, Galileo streaked past Amalthea, one of Jupiter's inner
moons, and dipped deeper into the planet's seething radiation belts
ever before for a final death-defying flyby.
The radiation scrambled Galileo's computer timing circuits, sent the
spacecraft into electronic hibernation and caused its tape recorder,
with priceless data, to freeze up. But in one more display of technical
virtuosity, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif., brought the spacecraft back to life and got the recorder
time to play back a final treasure trove of data, a task they hope to
complete this week.
Over the next few weeks, engineers expect to finish the job of
additional data that was stored earlier. At that point, 13 years after
launch and seven years after arrival at Jupiter, the Galileo mission
come to a fiery end.