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Thread: Mission saved from NASA Stupidity?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    January 17, 2002

    While approaching Jupiter's moon Io on Thursday, during
    the seventh year of its mission around Jupiter, NASA's Galileo
    spacecraft placed itself into standby mode, awaiting further
    commands from Earth.

    "We're not totally surprised, because Galileo has already
    outlived expectations and we knew that it might encounter
    additional difficulties from the high-radiation environment on
    this flyby," said Dr. Eilene Theilig, Galileo project manager
    at JPL. "Galileo has already lasted more than four years past
    its original mission and has survived three-and-a-half times
    the radiation it was designed to withstand, so it's not
    unexpected that this flyby would be interrupted by a problem."

    Images and other data were not collected during the
    closest phase of the encounter. The Galileo flight team at
    NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., is sending
    commands aimed at switching the spacecraft out of standby or
    "safing" mode for the later portion of the planned encounter
    period, which lasts into Sunday.

    Galileo hit its intended flyby point, achieving one of the
    encounter's primary goals of using Io's gravity to put the
    spacecraft on course for a September 2003 impact into Jupiter.
    This flyby is the closest and last for Galileo at any of
    Jupiter's four major moons. The spacecraft sped within 102
    kilometers (63 miles) of Io's volcanic surface.

    At about 13:41 Universal Time (5:41 a.m. Pacific time)
    today, the spacecraft detected a computer reset, which caused
    Galileo to enter a so-called "safe" mode. In this mode,
    onboard fault protection software instructs the spacecraft
    cameras and science instruments to stop taking data and places
    them in a safe state awaiting further instructions from the
    ground. The situation is similar to some that occurred in
    previous orbits and appears to result from the radiation
    environment near Jupiter.

    Engineers remain hopeful that they'll be able to restore
    normal spacecraft
    functioning by transmitting new commands to Galileo to restore
    data collection, Theilig said.

    The path of today's encounter was chosen to use Io's
    gravity to put Galileo on course to send it plunging into the
    crushing pressure of Jupiter's atmosphere in September 2003.
    Galileo is running low on the propellant needed to steer the
    spacecraft and keep its antenna pointed toward Earth. The
    intentional collision course with Jupiter was chosen as a way
    to end the mission before losing control of the spacecraft.

    Additional information about the Galileo mission is
    available at .

    Galileo was launched from the Space Shuttle Atlantis on Oct.
    18, 1989. After a long journey to Jupiter, Galileo began
    orbiting the huge planet on Dec. 7, 1995, and successfully
    completed its two-year primary mission in 1997. That has been
    followed by three mission extensions. JPL, a division of the
    California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the
    Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Um, I don't get it. Why would the mission be saved from NASA stupidity? Going into safe mode sounds like what it was supposed to do in an emergency. If you're talking about the eventual destruction of Galileo in Jupiter's atmosphere, I say it's better for it to be done now rather than when we have no control over it and, quite possibly, have no opportunity to gather more info on Jupiter's atmosphere. Even if Galileo were put into an orbit with a very small decay, it would eventually be pulled in.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    I think it's a bummer that they lost the chance to collect more data on Io from the closest pass yet.

    Like James, I don't see the point of the topic title. Safemode is a known status that a spacecraft adopts when it encounters a problem it can't handle autonomously. The engineers at JPL will diagnose the problem and coax the spacecraft back out of safemode. It will probably plunge into Jupiter in 2003 just as planned.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    I agree with the others. Galileo was already on course for Jupiter impact in 2003 before entering safe mode. The only question is whether it can be revived to gather more data before it crashes.

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