Following eight years of capturing dramatic images and
surprising science from Jupiter and its moons, NASA’s Galileo
mission draws to a close September 21 with a plunge into
Jupiter’s atmosphere.

NASA has scheduled a Space Science Update (SSU) at 2 p.m.
EDT, Wed., Sept. 17, in the James E. Webb Auditorium at NASA
headquarters, 300 E St. S.W., Washington. Panelists will
discuss the historic mission, engineering challenges, science
highlights and plans for Galileo’s impact with Jupiter’s

The SSU will be carried live on NASA Television with two-way
question-and-answer capability from participating agency
centers. NASA TV is broadcast on AMC-9, transponder 9C, C-
Band, located at 85 degrees west longitude. The frequency is
3880 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at
6.80 MHz. Audio of the SSU is available on voice circuit from
the Kennedy Space Center at: 321/867-1220.

SSU participants:

  • Dr. Colleen Hartman, director, Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Headquarters.
  • Dr. Claudia Alexander, Galileo project manager, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
  • Dr. Michael J.S. Belton, Team Leader, Galileo Solid State Imaging Team, Emeritus Astronomer, National Optical Astronomy Observatories, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Dr. Don Williams, principal investigator, Galileo heavy ion counter, The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
  • Jim Erickson, Mars Exploration Rover Mission Manager and former Galileo project manager, JPL.

The spacecraft was put on a collision course with Jupiter’s
atmosphere to eliminate any chance of impact of the moon
Europa, which Galileo discovered is likely to have a
subsurface ocean. The team expects the spacecraft to transmit
a few hours of science measurements in real time, leading up
to impact on Sunday, September 21. The maneuver is necessary,
since onboard propellant is nearly depleted. Without
propellant, the spacecraft would not be able to point its
antenna toward Earth nor adjust its flight path, so
controlling the spacecraft would no longer be possible.

From 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT, September 21, JPL will provide
live commentary from the mission control room and footage of
the countdown clock as Galileo nears its final moments. The
televised special will feature two panels. One will include
former project managers, and the other former project

Live satellite interview opportunities with project personnel
are available Friday, Sept. 19. To book a time, please
contact Jack Dawson at: 818/354-0040.

Launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1989, the mission
produced a string of discoveries while circling Jupiter, the
solar system’s largest planet, 34 times. Galileo was the
first spacecraft to directly measure Jupiter’s atmosphere
with a probe and the first to conduct long-term observations
of the Jovian system from orbit.

Galileo found evidence of subsurface liquid layers of salt
water on Jupiter’s moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and
it detected extraordinary levels of volcanic activity on Io.
Galileo was the first spacecraft to fly by an asteroid and
the first to discover the moon of an asteroid. Galileo’s
prime mission ended six years ago after two years orbiting
Jupiter. NASA extended the mission three times to take
advantage of Galileo’s unique science capabilities.

The Sept. 17 SSU and Sept. 21 end of mission event will be
Web cast live at:

Additional information about the mission and Galileo’s
discoveries is available at:

For information about NASA on the Internet, visit: