Before its shuttle launch, the Galileo orbiter was tested in a space
simulation chamber. The test chamber was designed to
subject the craft to approximately the same environmental conditions that it will encounter in space.
The Galileo spacecraft is being prepared for mating to its Inertial
Upper Stage, which will propel it on its six-year journey from
the Earth to Jupiter. The black and gold fabric that covers the spacecraft is designed to protect it from both the heat of the sun
and the chill of interplanetary space. The conical structure near the bottom of the spacecraft conceals the atmospheric probe,
which will enter the Jovian atmosphere in 1995.
The Galileo spacecraft and its Inertial Upper Stage booster rocket were
deployed from the space shuttle Atlantis October 18,
1989. Shortly thereafter, the booster rocket fired and separated, sending Galileo on its six-year journey to the planet Jupiter.
This artist's concept depicts the Inertial Upper Stage booster rocket
firing shortly after its deployment from the shuttle Atlantis.
Galileo's complex trajectory to Jupiter flung it by Venus once and then back to Earth for two fly-bys. Each pass added kinetic
energy to the spacecraft, increasing its velocity so that it could reach Jupiter with a relatively small amount of fuel.
In December 1995, Galileo's atmospheric probe will plunge into the clouds
of Jupiter, giving scientists their first glimpse into the
planet's atmosphere. The Galileo orbiter will relay probe information back to Earth. It will then study and map Jupiter's major
satellites from as near as a few hundred kilometers and will monitor Jupiter's atmosphere and magnetosphere.
The Galileo spacecraft as it passed by Io, just prior to Jupiter orbit
insertion, is shown in this artist's rendering. The orbiter will
use the combination of a gravity assist from Io and a rocket thrust to enter orbit. Between these events, the orbiter will relay to
Earth information received from the atmospheric probe descending through Jupiter's clouds. Note that the high gain antenna
(dish-shaped antenna) will not be deployed as shown here, due to malfunction of the deployment mechanism.