Safe crash

Published: Friday 15 September 2000

The Galileo spacecraft launched in 1989 to survey Jupiter and four of its moons may be close to a fiery end. A NASA (National Aeronautic and Space Administration) panel has recommended that the spacecraft be allowed to crash into Jupiter's atmosphere in December 2002. This is to prevent it from crashing into Europa, satellite of Jupiter where scientists believe there is a subsurface ocean that could have life. The spacecraft has already outlived its expected life and researchers believe that soon it could become uncontrollable. To prevent the contamination of Europa by microorganisms carried from the Earth, the panel is recommending its crashing into Jupiter. The earliest chance that the spacecraft will get to crash into the biggest planet in our solar system will be in December 2002, though NASA may postpone the crash till the next opportunity in 2004. Though the chances of Galileo still harbouring any live bacteria after its passing through the radiation belts of Jupiter are small, NASA wants to take no chances (

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.