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dsoltis
2003-Sep-23, 02:40 PM
Why did the Galileo spacecraft have to be destroyed (plunged into Jupiter). Did they really think it could contaminate Europa? Couldn't it contaminate Jupiter, using the same logic?

Fraser
2003-Sep-23, 06:50 PM
Great question "dsoltis", and welcome to the Universe Today forums. I've passed your question along to NASA/JPL. Let's hope they get back to me.

AstroStart.nl
2003-Sep-23, 06:53 PM
If they let the Galileo run, the space-craft would be out of control, because there was no fuel. If it would fall on Europe it would destroy microscopic organism. There is no change that there are organism 'on' Jupiter, so thats why they crashed the craft there.

bill 51
2003-Sep-23, 10:18 PM
There is enough atmosphere around Jupiter,to insure total destruction,of any organisms,due to the heat caused during entry!

major_eh
2003-Sep-24, 01:32 AM
There is the suspicion that Europa has a salt water sea beneath its cloak of ice. With that environment comes the possibilty of finding life forms ie:micro organisms. If we ever discovered these life forms and Galileo had happened to have crashed on Europa then we'd never actually know if they were naturally, natively occuring on Europa or if Galileo deposited their ancesters.

jkmccrann
2005-Dec-01, 08:46 AM
I personally think they could have crashed it in a slightly more interesting place, Io for instance. It would have been interesting to see if any of it survived a descent to the `Hot Moon.'

ngc3314
2005-Dec-01, 03:20 PM
I personally think they could have crashed it in a slightly more interesting place, Io for instance. It would have been interesting to see if any of it survived a descent to the `Hot Moon.'

One early plan for the Galileo end-of-mission was "Ranger to Io" in which it would have been plunged at the minimum possible speed into some interestig piece of Io, sending pictures all the way. Loss of the high-gain antenna meant that option had no scientific interest (whereas they did get some particle-and-fields data until a few minutes before Galileo entered the atmosphere, with the limitation set by its going behind the planet).

The final Jupiter plunge was decided because

- eventual impact with Europa was to be avoided if at all possible, given the nntrivial chance (AFAWK) of organisms there even if at some depth

- cumulative radiation damage to the computer, meaning the probability of complete loss of control increased with time

- depletion of fuel for maneuvering (which also meant that there was not enough to send Galileo anywhere interesting outside the inner Jovian moons)

All these meant that the longer the project waited, the greater the chance of leaving the spacecraft in an orbit which would eventually, thanks to the perturbations of four quite massive moons, intersect the surface of Europa. And NASA management never seems averse to ending a planetary mission in a dramatic way which ensure that the scientists cannot possibly come back and want funding for another mission extension.