LOOKING BACK THE SKY AT NIGHT 10 December 1995
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