Timeline of Star Scanner Science

 

Date                 Event

 

1981 - 1986       Galileo star scanner design, construction and testing

 

1986, Jan 28      Galileo was next in line to launch when the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed. Galileo’s launch is delayed.

 

1989, Oct 18     Galileo launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis.

 

1989, Nov 21     The star scanner observes the star Delta Velorum to drop in intensity but human engineers miss the event in the flood of other data from the spacecraft.

 

1995, Dec 7      Galileo arrives at Jupiter, radiation noise noted by engineers as spacecraft swings by Jupiter.

 

1997, Dec 7      Galileo completes primary mission of eleven orbits. Extended missions begin.

 

1998, spring       Paul Fieseler & Shadan Ardalan approach the Galileo Project Scientist with possibility of using the star scanner as a science instrument.

 

1999, summer    Although uncalibrated, the star scanner is providing the Project with a consistent and real-time measurement of the radiation pummeling that spacecraft is taking.

 

1999, Aug 2      Ground based observers see extraordinary volcanic activity on Io. A week later Galileo returns to the radiation belts to find them very “pumped up”. Several spacecraft systems fail due to radiation damage.

 

2000, Dec 20     A Master thesis is completed on the star scanner [14]. Contains proof that the star scanner is seeing predominantly high energy electrons and a preliminary calibration.

 

2000, Jun 20      Star scanner “loses” the star delta Velorum for 8 hours.

 

2000, Nov 21     The internet makes possible the collaboration of engineers and astronomers from Europe, Africa, South and North America to determine that delta Velorum is an eclipsing binary star.

 

2002, Nov 5      Galileo makes deepest penetration yet into Jovian radiation belt. The star scanner records radiation at levels almost ten times worse than any yet seen. The star scanner could not be trusted to provide attitude information (the radiation washed out the stars) in this region so the star scanner was re-programmed to “lie” and report stars where they should be.

 

                        The star scanner sees a variety of “rocks” near Amalthea.

 

2003, Sept 21    Galileo mission ends as the spacecraft plunges into the Jovian atmosphere. It is hoped that the star scanner will provide data until minutes before impact.

 

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