Galileo‘s prime mission was a two-year study of the Jovian system. The spacecraft traveled around Jupiter in elongated ellipses, each orbit lasting about two months. The differing distances from Jupiter afforded by these orbits allowed Galileo to sample different parts of the planet’s extensive magnetosphere. The orbits were designed for close-up flybys of Jupiter’s largest moons.

Mission Timeline

Galileo Launched

Launched on the Space Shuttle Atlantis
STS-34 / IUS at the Kennedy Space centre.


Venus Gravity Assist

Flyby Venus to perform a gravity assist speed slingshot


Earth Gravity Assist

Flyby Earth to perform a gravity assist speed slingshot


Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Fragment W Impact With Jupiter

Galileo captures images of the Shoemaker Levy comet crashing into Jupiter.


Jupiter atmospheric probe

Jupiter atmospheric probe entered Jupiters atomosphere for 57 minutes


Crash land on jupiter

Galileo impacted the gas giant in darkness just south of the equator on September 21, 2003, at 18:57 GMT. Its impact speed was approximately 173,736 kilometres per hour (107,955 mph).
This was done to avoid any Earth bacteria contamination on any of the moons that could possible hold life.