Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 8, 1995
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Descent To Jupiter
Credit: NASA, Galileo Project

Explanation: Hours ago, at about 5:00 pm EST (2200 GMT) December 7, Galileo's descent probe slammed into Jupiter's atmosphere. Above is an artist's vision of the probe's planned descent from a dramatic perspective. The protective aeroshell, still glowing from the fiery entry, is seen falling away, the 8 foot parachute has deployed, and the orbiter (upper left) is visible high above the cloud tops listening intently to the probe's data transmissions. As illustrated the probe may have encountered lightning, or at lower levels even water rain. Ultimately, the probe was expected to be vaporized by the intense heat deep below the clouds. NASA controllers have received telemetry signals from the orbiter indicating that it has recorded the probe's transmissions and has subsequently successfully fired its rocket engine entering orbit around Jupiter. The first playback of the recorded data to ground stations on Earth is scheduled for December 10-13. Congratulations to the Galileo Team!

Tomorrow's picture: Apollo 14 on the Moon

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
NASA Technical Rep.: Sherri Calvo. Specific rights apply.
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