A robotic NASA spacecraft carrying equipment developed and built by University of Iowa researchers will intentionally be crashed into the planet Jupiter in a few days, ending a 14-year mission. U-of-I research scientist Bill Kurth says the one-and-a-half billion dollar Galileo spacecraft is nearly out of fuel and they -don’t- want it to end up orbiting Jupiter where there’s a risk it might hit one of the moons, particularly Europa. The concern is with Europa being a possible habitable moon with an ice crust and perhaps an ocean beneath, Kurth says if we ever went there looking for life and Galileo had crashed there, there’d always be a question of whether we put the life there ourselves, as Galileo is full of bacteria from Earth. Kurth has been studying data sent back to Earth from Galileo for years, focusing mostly on waves of plasma and the magnetic field around the largest planet in our solar system. Kurth says the spacecraft has been steadily transmitting information back for years.Galileo was launched from a space shuttle in 1989 and it’s lasted much longer than expected. The mission was only expected to last two years and many feared it would end sooner due to the extreme radiation damaging the sensitive electronics — but it’s performed extremely well for 14 years. Galileo will be crashed on Jupiter on Sunday, having traveled some two-point-three billion miles from home.
You are here: / / Spacecraft developed at U-of-I set to crash