Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Jupiter will vaporize spacecraft

16.09.2003


Galileo, the NASA space probe in which UK scientists have played a key role, will dramatically end its 14-year mission when it plunges into Jupiter’s dense atmosphere on the 21st September. The spacecraft, which has revealed a wealth of scientific data on Jupiter and its moons, with fuel and power exhausted, will vaporize like a meteor as its descends through the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere (an artist’s impression of what this might look like is available - please see notes to editors).


An artist’s impression of Galileo descending into Jupiter. Credit: David A Hardy. www.astroart.org



As well as extensive scientific data, Galileo has provided the most visually stunning images of Jupiter and its moons ever, especially Io and Europa. The probe, launched in 1989 by the Space Shuttle Atlantis, also imaged the Earth, Venus, the Moon and several asteroids during its lifetime.

The highlights of the mission include the identification of massive amounts of lightening activity in Jupiter’s atmosphere, where hurricane-force winds and huge amounts of heat from the interior whip clouds of frozen ammonia into bands that encircle the planet, studded with giant storms, some of them larger than the entire Earth. The planet is richer in heavy elements than the Sun, showing that it was assembled from smaller ’planetesimals’ rather than condensing in isolation as previously surmised.


Galileo also discovered that Jupiter’s rings are made of small dust grains blasted off the surface of Jupiter’s four innermost satellites by the impacts of meteoroids. The infrared spectrometer on Galileo took the surface temperature of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, and discovered that many of Io’s active volcanoes are much hotter than Earth’s, indicating a higher magnesium or iron content for the silicate lava that erupts from below Io’s surface than would be expected in a terrestrial volcano.

Commenting on the mission, Prof. Ian Halliday, Chief Executive Officer of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the UK’s space science agency, said, " Galileo has been a resounding scientific success. Our understanding of Jupiter and the Jovian system has been increased enormously and UK scientists have been at the forefront of some of these amazing discoveries".

Galileo images and infrared spectra have revealed that Europa, another Jovian moon, has a salty ocean beneath its cracked and frozen surface, an impression that is reinforced by the lack of craters on the moon, which show the surface to be relatively young. Galileo has revealed that Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, has its own magnetic field and evidence has also been provided to support the existence of a subsurface ocean on Callisto.

Scientists from Oxford University, The Open University and Imperial College are involved in three of the eleven instruments onboard Galileo.

Professor Tony McDonnell from the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute (PSSRI) at The Open University is Co-Investigator on the Dust Detector Subsystem which has looked at the properties of dust particles within the Jovian system said,

"Galileo has been a truly remarkable mission. The results from the Dust Detector Subsystem indicate that much of the dust comes from outside the solar system indicating that it originates from distant stars."

Professor Fred Taylor from Oxford University, a team member for the infrared spectrometer experiment on Galileo, said : "Galileo has provided a fantastic database that will be a rich source of progress in the planetary sciences for years or decades to come. The mission has provided key information about Jupiter and its place in the solar system."

Dr Michele Dougherty from Imperial College is a team member on the Magnetometer instrument that detects magnetic fields in the spacecraft’s immediate environment. She comments, "It is always sad when a mission comes to the end of its lifetime. However, Galileo has exceeded expectations and provided a wealth of scientific data resulting in the discovery of many new important facts about the Jovian system. In addition the images produced of Europa and Io are stunning."

The UK scientists are working with their US and other overseas colleagues on a massive, multi-authored book that will record the scientific results of Galileo’s 30-year odyssey and form a fitting epitaph for one of the most successful of man’s voyages to his planetary neighbours so far.

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk
http://galileo.jpl.nasa.gov/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified

05.12.2016 | Information Technology

NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>