NASA Series: Galileo

There will always be uncharted areas of space to explore. That kind of unknown can spark a certain curiosity. NASA’s curiosity drove them to launch the satellite Galileo on October 18, 1989 from Space Shuttle Atlantis. Galileo’s mission had a duration of 14 years and it spent seven of them traveling to Jupiter. It studied the planet and its 79 known moons in the Jovian system. Galileo was an unmanned satellite consisting of two probes orbital and entry that could be used to safely enter environments not suitable for astronauts.

NASA Rendering of Galileo Satellite

Galileo made history for being the first craft to land on two asteroids, Gaspra and Ida. The Galileo mission’s discoveries include a study of Jupiter’s ice-cold planet Europa locating evidence of the existence of a saltwater ocean underneath the surface. In 1990, Galileo flew past Venus and captured infrared images of its atmospheric clouds. Other mission findings include the discovery of a magnetic field started by the moon Ganymede, and volcanic activity evidence on the moon called Lo. At mission’s end, the craft was intentionally crashed into Jupiter to prevent contamination of its local moons. Galileo’s main mission enlisted 200 staff members with the mission planned for December 7, 1985 to December 1997. It would extend to January 2003 with satellite destruction. Studies of the planets Europa and Lo lasted from December 8, 1997 to December 31, 1999. Jupiter’s water study and Lo’s plasma study were both completed in that timeframe.

Lenox Laser aided the mission starting in 1985 by drilling one 19.5 micron precision hole in hastelloy discs that were used for the spacecraft’s helium leak detector. The main reason for the hastelloy alloy was its ability withstand high temperatures and still have greater efficiency and moderately to severe corrosive environments. The alloy is made up of such metals as aluminum, carbon, tungsten, chromium, copper, magnesium, cobalt, and iron. Lenox Laser is the industrial pioneer of microscopic hole technology. Only Lenox Laser was able to create the process to drill such a small hole in a material such as hastelloy.

Galileo Galilei once said, “If you could see the Earth illuminated when you were in a place as dark as night, it would look to you more splendid than the moon.” Lenox Laser is amazed and honored to be part of humanities never ending quest to unravel the mysteries and true magic of space. Join us again next week for our final installment, The James Webb Telescope.

NASA Series: James Webb Telescope