Amazing Galileo Facts

   The Galileo spacecraft is made of materials that suggest it is much more like a fighter plane than a car. It uses very lightweight materials such as beryllium to house the subsystems, aluminum for the structure, and carbon composites for the booms.
   On its first orbit around Jupiter, the Galileo spacecraft reached a maximum distance from Jupiter of about 20 million kilometers. This is nearly half the distance between the orbits of Earth and Venus, Earth's closest planetary neighbor.
   Batteries only get you so far in outer space. The Galileo orbiter carries two radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs),which are used to generate electrical power on board the spacecraft. There are 7.8 kilograms (17.2 pounds) of Plutonium-238 in each RTG.
   Galileo's roots date back to an early recommendation for an atmospheric probe that would explore Jupiter's atmosphere down to pressure levels 100 times that of Earth at sea level. This proposal eventually became JOP (for Jupiter Orbiter Probe), which then eventually became Galileo.
   When the Galileo Probe entered Jupiter's atmosphere, it was traveling at a speed of 106,000 miles per hour -- the fastest impact speed ever achieved by a man- made object. At that speed, one could drive around the Earth at the equator in 14 minutes (assuming there were bridges across all the oceans) or to the Moon and back in only 5 hours!
   On its journey from Earth to Jupiter, Galileo traveled 2.4 billion miles. Along the way, about 67 gallons of fuel from the propulsion system were used to control Galileo's flight path and to keep its antenna pointed at Earth. That's equivalent to getting 36 million miles per gallon! With that kind of mileage, one would use up only 4 tablespoons of gasoline to drive to the Moon and back!
   After traveling 2.4 billion miles in just over 6 years to reach Jupiter, Galileo missed its target at the Jovian moon Io by only 67 miles. That's like shooting an arrow from Los Angeles at a bull's-eye in New York and missing by only 6 inches!
   Since being launched from Earth on October 18, 1989, Galileo has traveled 2.4 billion miles in just over 6 years to reach Jupiter. That's an average speed of 44,000 miles per hour. At that speed, one could drive around the Earth at the equator (assuming there were bridges across all the oceans) in just over half an hour, or to the Moon and back in only 11 hours!
   Jupiter has some truly high velocity winds-- they blow at speed as high as 260 miles per hour at Jupiter's cloud tops!
   Magnetic fields can be powerful entities. Jupiter's magnetosphere strips away 1 ton of material from Io a second. Io's orbital motion through Jupiter's magnetosphere generates electricity--an electric current of 3 million amps!
   Using Galileo's on board instruments to observe the asteroid Gaspra was a challenge somewhat akin to attempting to spot the Goodyear Blimp through a soda straw from five miles away, while sitting in a car going 90 mph.


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