Space scientists at the University of Iowa are getting a rare treat. They’re able to observe our solar system’s largest planet with -two- spacecraft at once. U-of-I research scientist Bill Kurth has been studying the data from Galileo since it reached Jupiter’s orbit five years ago.While Galileo, launched in 1989, was expected to succumb to radiation three years ago, Kurth says it’s still going strong and transmitting data about the giant planet back to Earth. Kurth says he and his team are using both Galileo and now Cassini, which is headed for Saturn. They’re studying unusual shifts in the magnetosphere, the magnetic field around Jupiter.It’s hoped the study of the magnetic field around Jupiter can help scientists better understand the magnetic field surrounding Earth. The field and the solar wind can have a significant effect on satellites, which have become an increasingly important part of all of our lives.Radio receivers on both the Galileo and Cassini spacecraft were developed and built by researchers at the U-of-I. Cassini is about six million miles from Jupiter as it heads for the ringed planet Saturn, while Galileo is orbiting Jupiter at about 300-thousand miles from its surface.
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