October 18, 1989, the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Cape
Canaveral in Florida. On board was some very special cargo - the Galileo
spacecraft. Galileo was going to be launched on a mission to study
Jupiter and some of its many moons. Once the space shuttle was in orbit
around Earth, Galileo was moved out of the cargo
bay and sent on its six-year journey to Jupiter.
get up enough speed, the spacecraft used the "slingshot effect,"
just like Voyager II. You can read about this on pages 4 and 5 of
your book, "Voyage to the Giants."
Galileo didn't fly in a straight line to Jupiter. It traveled on a spiral-shaped path.
Galileo passed the asteroid
named Gaspra and turned to fly back past Earth one more time. It passed
by Earth again on December 8, 1992.
Now Galileo was going fast enough to head out into our solar system and toward Jupiter. On the way, it flew close to another asteroid named Ida. Photographs showed that this small asteroid had an even smaller moon orbiting it. Scientists have named this moon Dactyl.
|Galileo flight path|
To view an animation of
the flight path, click the
button below. (120k file)
arrived at Jupiter on December 7, 1995. It began sending back information
and amazing photographs to mission control on Earth. Galileo also
sent a tiny spacecraft (called a probe) to the surface of Jupiter. Galileo's
probe will find out more about this planet. Galileo will send valuable
information to scientists for a long time to come.
Photos of Jupiter
Galileo did a lot of things that no
other spacecraft had done.
First flyby of an asteroid
First discovery of an asteroid's moon
First probe to land on Jupiter
First spacecraft to orbit Jupiter