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  sci-tech > space > story pagecorner  

NASA plans extended Galileo mission


January 5, 2000
Web posted at: 4:22 p.m. EST (2122 GMT)

(CNN) -- NASA headquarters has agreed in principle to extend the Galileo mission past its planned January 31 finale, the U.S. space agency said this week.

Details of funding and itinerary for the new extended mission, to be called the Galileo Millennium Mission, must still be resolved.

Star gazing

The spacecraft's latest encounter, a flyby of Jupiter's icy moon Europa, took place early this week and appears to have been a success, engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories said.

The encounter began when the spacecraft flew over Europa on Monday morning, January 3, at an altitude of 351 kilometers (218 miles). Galileo then performed observations of three of Jupiter's smaller moons -- Amalthea, Thebe and Metis -- at 7:30 p.m. PST on Monday.

The encounter was capped off with several observations of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io about 4 a.m. PST Tuesday.

The latest observations were technically still part of the current, extended Galileo Europa Mission. Another Io flyby is planned for February 22, with flybys of Ganymede on May 30 and December 28, and joint observations of Jupiter with the Cassini spacecraft in December 2000.

Galileo engineers say the spacecraft has already lived "well past its warranty," surviving radiation exposure more than twice the level it was designed to withstand.

Although the radiation has created some problems with spacecraft instruments, Galileo is still functioning well, JPL said in a statement.

There's no way to predict how long the spacecraft will remain healthy, but as long as it does, it provides valuable opportunities for exploration, according to JPL.

In addition, it will serve as a flying testbed of how electronic parts hold up through high radiation exposure over long periods, JPL said.

The spacecraft reached Jupiter in 1995 on its $1.35 billion mission to study the giant planet and its multiple moons.

Searching for water, Galileo flies by Europa
January 4, 2000
Galileo space probe flys by Jupiter's volcanic moon
October 11, 1999
Galileo returns closeups of volcanic Io
August 27, 1999
Scientists discover key to Io light show
August 5, 1999

Journey to Jupiter
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Galileo Mission Home
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