First Jupiter data arrives back from Galileo probe

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The Independent Online
The first data from Galileo, the probe sent into space six years ago to study Jupiter, arrived back on Earth yesterday after a 2.3-billion- mile journey.

The data, which will take years to analyse, will give humanity its first close look at Jupiter, its atmosphere, composition and climate.

A small probe from Galileo was dispatched into the giant planet's atmosphere on Thursday and lasted 75 minutes before being destroyed. During the plunge, the probe sent the unique data back to Galileo which relayed it back to Earth.

Although just receiving the data is an immense triumph for the Nasa scientists, they warned that its quality had yet to be assessed. Members of the team cautioned that transmission would be on a "best effort" basis because the Sun is now between Earth and Jupiter and is likely to cause radio interference.

Galileo has been beset by disasters, among them damage to the main transmission system which means the scientists have to rely on a small back-up system which has dramatically slowed down the transfer rate.

Transmission of the first 43 minutes of data from the probe will continue until Wednesday and will be repeated in January when Earth and Jupiter is no longer blocked by the Sun. Transmission of the full 75 minutes will be completed in February.