Save the Io Flyby!

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by EdwinKite, Apr 28, 2001.

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  1. EdwinKite Registered Member

    April 26, 2001

    Media Contact:
    Jason Perry
    Fax +1-413-618-2831

    Keep Galileo's Eyes Open, Say Petitioning Scientists

    Leavenworth, KS - NASA recently extended the successful Galileo spacecraft's
    mission until January
    2003 to continue study of Jupiter's fascinating moons, particularly the
    extremely volcanic moon Io.
    Io - the most active world yet discovered - features modes of eruption not
    seen on Earth for
    billions of years, mountains taller than Mt. Everest, and a unique and
    poorly understood surface
    chemistry based on sulfur. But scientists say that a planned powerdown of
    Galileo's imaging suite at
    the end of this year will hamstring efforts to solve Io's many mysteries.

    NASA has funded Galileo's instrument package through 2001 to include two
    further flybys of Io. NASA
    has also planned another Io flyby, during Galileo's thirty-third orbit
    (I33), on January 17, 2002.
    Dipping to within 100 km (62 miles) of Io's surface - lower than any
    previous Jupiter-system flyby -
    Galileo will fly over Io's sub-jovian hemisphere, which has never been
    imaged before at high

    Unfortunately, funding for all imaging during the I33 flyby has recently
    been withdrawn, and the
    only chance to image the mysterious features on this hemisphere of Io at
    high resolution will be
    lost unless the decision is reversed.

    The only images of this hemisphere returned from Galileo so far have been at
    low resolution, taken
    at very long range during the orbital tour - show several gigantic volcanoes
    and still-hot lava
    fields of varying composition. If funds are reinstated, Galileo will image
    the mountains Hi'iaka,
    Gish Bar, and Pan, a pair of enigmatic lava domes named Apis and Inachus
    Tholi, and the volcanoes
    Kanehekili and Mbali. Galileo will also measure the temperature of the
    volcanoes Kanehekili,
    Prometheus, Marduk, and Pillan and search for hot spots, which provide clues
    to the way Io
    dissipates its tidal heat.

    "Every time we look at Io we see something unexpected and amazing. I33 gives
    Io one more chance to
    blow our socks off! The fact that we will be looking at a hemisphere not
    seen close-up since Voyager
    increases the chances of new and surprising discoveries," commented John
    Spencer of the Lowell

    "This is an exceptional opportunity to view Io's Jupiter facing hemisphere
    at high-resolution using
    Galileo's remote sensing capabilities. We have already done a lot of the
    necessary work. The
    observations are already planned and designed. Nobody wants to miss this
    unique chance," says Rosaly
    Lopes of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

    Jason Perry, a high school junior from Leavenworth, Kansas, has created a
    petition to persuade NASA
    to reverse its decision. The petition - "Pennies for Pele" - was started on
    March 30, 2001 and has
    already been signed by 301 Io scientists and others from around the world.

    The cost of performing remote sensing during the January 2002 flyby is only
    $1.5 million dollars.
    This represents 0.1% of the funds spent to send Galileo to Jupiter, and a
    ten-thousandth of NASA's
    annual budget.

    "The funding/science ratio for imaging at the January 2002 flyby is
    ridiculously cheap. Considering
    the amount of money it took us to get there, not funding I33 imaging makes
    absolutely no sense,"
    commented Joseph Plassmann of the Planetary Image Research Laboratory in
    Tucson, Arizona.

    It is hoped that 1000 signatures can be obtained before August 6, the date
    of the next Io flyby.
    Copies of the petition will then be passed to the NASA's Office of Space

    The petition can be signed online at:-
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