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 Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa

nachricht Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>