Exploring the Solar System

Exploring the Outer Planets

How did the Galileo spacecraft’s mini-probe work?

On December 7, 1995, Galileo’s mini-probe dropped from the spacecraft and entered Jupiter’s atmosphere at a speed of 106,000 miles (170,000 kilometers) per hour. Within two minutes, it had slowed to less than 110 miles (170 kilometers) per hour. Soon after, the probe deployed a parachute, which slowed its descent further, and it floated downward toward Jupiter’s core. As it went down, intense winds blew it nearly 300 miles (500 kilometers) horizontally. In all, the mini-probe lasted for fifty-eight minutes, taking detailed pictures and measurements of the giant planet until its instruments stopped working about 90 miles (150 kilometers) below the top of Jupiter’ atmosphere. Eight hours later, the probe vaporized as temperatures reached 3,400 degrees Fahrenheit (1,900 degrees Celsius).


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Astronomy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App