Amazing Facts

Amazing Galileo Facts




The Galileo spacecraft is made of materials that suggest it is much
more like a fighter plane than a car. It uses very
lightweight materials such as beryllium to house the
subsystems, aluminum for the structure, and carbon
composites for the booms.


On its first orbit around Jupiter, the Galileo spacecraft reached
a maximum distance from Jupiter of about 20 million
kilometers. This is nearly half the distance between the
orbits of Earth and Venus, Earth's closest planetary neighbor.


Batteries only get you so far in outer space. The Galileo orbiter
carries two radioisotope thermoelectric generators
(RTGs),which are used to generate electrical power on
board the spacecraft. There are 7.8 kilograms (17.2
pounds) of Plutonium-238 in each RTG.


Galileo's roots date back to an early recommendation for an
atmospheric probe that would explore Jupiter's atmosphere
down to pressure levels 100 times that of Earth at sea
level. This proposal eventually became JOP (for Jupiter
Orbiter Probe), which then eventually became Galileo.


When the Galileo Probe entered Jupiter's atmosphere, it was
traveling at a speed of 106,000 miles per hour -- the
fastest impact speed ever achieved by a man- made object.
At that speed, one could drive around the Earth at the
equator in 14 minutes (assuming there were bridges across
all the oceans) or to the Moon and back in only 5 hours!


On its journey from Earth to Jupiter, Galileo traveled 2.4
billion miles. Along the way, about 67 gallons of fuel
from the propulsion system were used to control Galileo's
flight path and to keep its antenna pointed at Earth.
That's equivalent to getting 36 million miles per gallon!
With that kind of mileage, one would use up only 4
tablespoons of gasoline to drive to the Moon and back!


After traveling 2.4 billion miles in just over 6 years to reach
Jupiter, Galileo missed its target at the Jovian moon Io
by only 67 miles. That's like shooting an arrow from Los
Angeles at a bull's-eye in New York and missing by only 6 inches!


Since being launched from Earth on October 18, 1989, Galileo has
traveled 2.4 billion miles in just over 6 years to reach
Jupiter. That's an average speed of 44,000 miles per hour.
At that speed, one could drive around the Earth at the
equator (assuming there were bridges across all the
oceans) in just over half an hour, or to the Moon and back
in only 11 hours!


Jupiter has some truly high velocity winds-- they blow at speed as
high as 260 miles per hour at Jupiter's cloud tops!


Magnetic fields can be powerful entities. Jupiter's magnetosphere
strips away 1 ton of material from Io a second. Io's
orbital motion through Jupiter's magnetosphere generates
electricity--an electric current of 3 million amps!


Using Galileo's on board instruments to observe the asteroid
Gaspra was a challenge somewhat akin to attempting to spot
the Goodyear Blimp through a soda straw from five miles
away, while sitting in a car going 90 mph.

   

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