Spacecraft Galileo's Greatest Challenge!
| Spacecraft Galileo was launched with its
big antenna all folded up, to keep it protected. Unfortunately,
when the time came to open it up,
it wouldn't open all the way! It was stuck!|
Galileo's engineers tried
to open the big antenna...
|First the engineers thought warming up
the antenna would help. They had Galileo turn
towards the sun, so its metal would expand.
But still the antenna stayed stuck!
||Then they thought if the antenna
was colder, that would shrink the pins holding the
antenna in. Galileo was asked to turn AWAY from the sun.
|Then they tried to HAMMER the antenna open, by sending
commands to Galileo to try again and again to open it...
||... but as they commanded Galileo's antenna motor to turn
on and off, over and over, the big antenna just wouldn't open all the way!
|Scientists and engineers from all over
the world, and even the general public,
tried to think of another solution, but nothing worked!
Galileo needed to be able to talk to Earth once out at Jupiter, and its small
antenna only sent a very weak signal.|
There was only ONE solution:
Galileo's engineers HAD to make the small
antenna work better!
|Galileo's engineers and computer software
experts got together and started working on some ideas: they
thought they could create new programs and software to compress
the data Galileo would send back. This way, all the pictures Galileo
took and the other information
Galileo gathered would travel faster to Earth, even with
the small antenna!
|For months and months, Galileo's support teams
rewrote just about all its software. Then, slowly and carefully, the flight team
transmitted it all to
Galileo, as the spacecraft flew millions of miles away! The new software
helped Galileo's small antenna send its pictures and other data back faster
than anyone thought possible.|
|Finally, the large antennas of the Deep
Space Network, located at three balanced points around the world,
in Goldstone (California), Canberra (Australia), and
Madrid (Spain), were asked to work together and with
nearby antennas, to get all they
could of the weak signal from Galileo's small antenna.
|With the new software, the large arrays of
antennas working together, and using the on-board tape recorder
to store data until it could get sent, Galileo was
all set for taking lots of pictures
and learning all sorts of things at Jupiter. The mission was going to be a
Galileo is having a great time touring Jupiter,
Read all about it at Galileo meets Jupiter and the