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Space Station Info :: Nine Planet Solar System :: Overview of Jupiter :: Jupiter Exploration

Jupiter Exploration

A number of probes have visited Jupiter.

Pioneer Flyby Missions

Pioneer 10 flew past Jupiter in December of 1973, followed by Pioneer 11 exactly one year later. They provided important new data about Jupiter's magnetosphere, and took some low-resolution photographs of the planet.

Voyager Flyby Missions

Voyager 1 took this photo of the planet Jupiter on January 24, while still more than 25 million miles (40 million kilometres) away. Click image for full caption.

Voyager 1 flew by in March 1979 followed by Voyager 2 in July of the same year. The Voyagers vastly improved our understanding of the Galilean moons and discovered Jupiter's rings. They also took the first close up images of the planet's atmosphere.

Ulysses Flyby Mission

Jupiter Exploration In February 1992, Ulysses solar probe performed a flyby of Jupiter at a distance of 900,000 km (6.3 Jovian radii).The flyby was needed to attain a polar orbit around the Sun. The probe conducted studies on Jupiter's magnetosphere. Since there are no cameras onboard in the probe and no images were taken. In February 2004, the probe came again in the vicinity of Jupiter. This time distance was much greater, about 240 million km.

Galileo Mission

Jupiter as seen by the space probe Cassini. This is the most detailed global color portrait of Jupiter ever assembled. There is only one spacecraft to orbit Jupiter and it is the Galileo orbiter, which went into orbit around Jupiter in December 7, 1995. It orbited the planet for over seven years and conducted multiple flybys of all of the Galilean moons and Amalthea .

The spacecraft also witnessed the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter as it approached the planet in 1994, giving a unique vantage point for this spectacular event. However, the information gained about the Jovian system from the Galileo mission was limited by the failed deployment of its high-gain radio transmitting antenna. An atmospheric probe was released from the spacecraft in July, 1995.

The probe entered the planet's atmosphere in December 7, 1995. It parachuted through 150 km of the atmosphere, collecting data for 58 minutes, before being crushed by the extreme pressure to which it was subjected. It would have melted and vaporized shortly thereafter. The Galileo orbiter itself experienced a more rapid version of the same fate when it was deliberately steered into the planet on September 21, 2003 at a speed of over 50 km/s, in order to avoid any possibility of it crashing into and possibly contaminating Europa, one of the Jovian moons.

Cassini Flyby Mission

In 2000, the Cassini probe, en route to Saturn, flew by Jupiter and provided some of the highest-resolution images ever made of the planet.

Future Probes

NASA is planning a mission to study Jupiter in detail from a polar orbit. Named Juno, the spacecraft is planned to launch by 2010. After the discovery of a liquid ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa , there has been great interest to study the icy moons in detail. A mission proposed by NASA was maintained to study them. The JIMO (Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter) was expected to be launched sometime after 2012. However, the mission was made too ambitious and its funding was cancelled. In 2007, Jupiter will also be briefly visited by the New Horizons probe, en route to Pluto.

Also see about:

Overview Of Jupiter
Physical Characteristics
Exploration Of Jupiter
Jupiter's Moons
Classification Of Jupiter Moon