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Flyby of Jupiter Moon Ends a Galileo Mission

November 09, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

NASA's workhorse spacecraft Galileo made a final flyby of Jupiter's moon Amalthea in what is expected to mark the end of the science-gathering portion of its 13-year mission.

NASA officials said Galileo flew within 99 miles of Amalthea, a brilliant red, egg-shaped moon, then swung closer to Jupiter than it ever has before. The team plans to crash the probe into Jupiter in September.

Galileo gathered measurements of the energy fields and charged particles in the inner region of Jupiter's magnetic environment. It also examined dust grains that form a gossamer ring around the planet. The probe placed itself in a standby mode after its closest approach to Amalthea, however, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory controllers will have to reactivate it to retrieve all of its data.

Galileo has made 37 close encounters with various planets, asteroids, and Jupiter's four large moons since it was launched 13 years ago.

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