- Status Report
- Feb 3, 2023
Galileo Mission Status – Europa Flyby
MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Galileo Mission Status
January 3, 2000
NASA’s Galileo spacecraft has kicked off the new year with a successful flyby of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The
spacecraft swooped past Europa at an altitude of 351 kilometers (218 miles) today at 10:38 a.m. Pacific Standard
The spacecraft is operating normally, and it appears that its instruments have completed their observations of the
magnetic fields and charged particles around Europa. These observations were designed to detect any magnetic
disturbances that may occur because of electrical currents set up in an ocean that may lie beneath Europa’s icy
crust. The prospect of a liquid ocean on Europa is intriguing, since water is one of the ingredients essential for life.
Because Galileo passed behind Europa during the flyby, its radio signal to Earth was blocked for a while.
Scientists took advantage of this situation by studying the way the radio signal changed as the spacecraft entered
this “silent zone.” These radio science experiments teach us more about Europa’s ionosphere — the region of
charged particles surrounding the moon — and any possible atmosphere.
Observations of three of Jupiter’s small natural satellites — Amalthea, Thebe, and Metis – are planned for Galileo
this evening, with observations of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io on the spacecraft’s agenda for the early morning. All
data gathered during this flyby are being stored on Galileo’s onboard tape recorder. They will be transmitted to
Earth during the coming weeks.
Galileo has been orbiting Jupiter and its moons since December 1995, beaming to Earth unprecedented images and
other information. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, manages the Galileo
mission for NASA’s Office of Space Science, Washington, DC.