NASA Scientists Finish Repair of Galileo Tape Recorder, Salvage Last Data of Mission

AP Wire Service

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ NASA said Tuesday it has completed a long-distance repair of the tape recorder aboard Galileo, allowing the aging spacecraft to transmit to Earth the last scientific data of its seven-year mission at Jupiter.

The tape recorder conked out last month during a flyby of Amalthea, an inner moon of Jupiter. Radiation damage from nearby Jupiter left the recorder inoperable for weeks, stranding data about the magnetic environment close to Jupiter collected during the Nov. 4-5 flyby.

Engineers managed to fix the recorder and begin playback of the data last week. Playback will continue until mid-January, when spacecraft operations will cease. Scientists hope the data also contain information about the gossamer ring of dust that surrounds Jupiter.

After January, Galileo will complete its 35th and last orbit of Jupiter before slamming into the planet in September 2003 and ending its $1.4 billion mission. The spacecraft was launched in 1989 and arrived at Jupiter in 1995.