Galileo, Cassini to study Jupiter in joint expedition
TEAM UP? TANDEM?
Artists' concepts of the Cassini (top) and Galileo spacecraft
PASADENA, California -- The spacecraft Galileo will extend
its mission exploring Jupiter and its moons until the end of
the year, which may allow it to conduct scientific studies
with the Cassini robot ship when it briefly visits the jovian
system, NASA scientists announced this week.
The joint expedition would mark the first time two spacecraft have
performed close-up studies of an outer planet at the same
"This extended travel ticket enables us to continue studying
Jupiter and its fascinating moons," Jim Erickson,
Galileo project manager, said in a statement.
Focusing on powerful magnetic fields
Mission engineers plan for Galileo to team up with Cassini to
make synchronized observations of the Jupiter system and its
magnetic fields from two different locations.
| MESSAGE BOARD|
"One spacecraft will be inside Jupiter's magnetic envelope,
with the other outside where it can observe the powerful
solar wind pressing on the envelope," Cassini project
scientist Dennis Matson said in a statement.
"From the two vantage points, we'll watch cause and effect as
the wind changes the magnetic properties around Jupiter," Matson said.
The Saturn-bound Cassini will fly near Jupiter in December.
Cassini engineers plan to use Jupiter's strong gravity to
slingshot it toward Saturn.
Before the rendezvous, Galileo will fly by Jupiter's moon
Ganymede in May and December. The flybys should provide clues
about the geological history of Ganymede and the best images
yet of the icy moon, the largest natural satellite in the
After mission, Galileo fate a mystery
Galileo, which earlier this year flew by two other Jupiter
moons, Europa and Io, has endured the hazards of space much
longer than expected.
The spacecraft concluded its original two-year mission in
1997. A two-year extension ended about six weeks ago. It has
already survived nearly three times the radiation it was
designed to withstand.
Galileo engineers are considering various options for a
mission finale, including crashing the spacecraft into
Jupiter or Io. They want to avoid an impact with Europa
because recent evidence suggests the existence of a ocean
underneath its icy crust, a liquid environment that some
speculate could harbor life.
Galileo entered orbit around Jupiter in 1995, six years after
it launched. Cassini blasted off in 1997 and will reach the
Saturn system in 2004. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, California, manages the Galileo and Cassini missions
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August 27, 1999
Scientist: Jupiter radiation could mean life on Europa
January 28, 2000
Nuclear-powered craft zooms safely past Earth
August 18, 1999
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