Sky at Night Magazine - - BULLETIN -

On 10 De­cem­ber 1995 The Sky at Night dis­cussed the Galileo probe, which had just ar­rived at Jupiter and was due to send an up­date.

The space­craft be­gan its six-year jour­ney to the gas gi­ant with a launch on 18 Oc­to­ber 1989. Galileo ap­proached Jupiter on 7 De­cem­ber 1995, ready to spend the next eight years sur­vey­ing both the planet and its moons.

One as­pect of Galileo’s mis­sion, though, was com­pleted on its first day at the planet when an at­mo­spheric probe de­scended through Jupiter’s up­per lay­ers. It hit the at­mos­phere at 46km/s, but used a para­chute to slow its plunge to 0.12km/s in just four min­utes.

The probe dis­cov­ered that Jupiter’s at­mos­phere was much hot­ter and denser than ex­pected though there was less water and light­ning. The probe sur­vived for 78 min­utes be­fore tem­per­a­tures over 150ºC caused the elec­tron­ics to fail.

This archived episode is avail­able on BBC iPlayer.

An artist’s im­pres­sion of Galileo’s at­mo­spheric probe in Jupiter’s skies

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