|The Department Graduate Students Ground-Based Research|
The Pioneers |
Pioneer Venus |
Mars Observer |
Lunar Prospector | IMAGE
2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
There were two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, launched about a month apart in 1977. They visited Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. For Jupiter, both encounters were in 1979. The spacecraft were spaced out by that time, so there was a Saturn encounter in 1980 for Voyager 1 and 1981 for Voyager 2.
At the Saturn encounter, Voyager 1 was targeted to go very close to Titan. The close approach to Titan required a trajectory that took it out of the ecliptic plane, so it wasn’t possible to retarget that for any more planets. But Voyager 2 didn’t have that restriction, based on its trajectory. So it was possible to keep it in the ecliptic plane after the Saturn encounter, which was the end of the nominal Voyager mission, and it continued on to Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989.
With Voyager we made several discoveries along the way. We discovered the Io plasma torus, which occupied our time as we came in to Jupiter. We had a slit instrument with 128 detectors that were scanning across Jupiter, so if there was anything going on we might pick it up. What we found was the torus, and the torus is out at about five Jupiter radii. The source of the torus is Io, the satellite.
As we came in we saw this ultraviolet emission around the planet. If we hadn’t had an ultraviolet experiment we wouldn’t have a clue and wouldn’t know it was there today. So that was a big boon for our program.
We were looking across and we saw this thing and we modeled it as we approached. Now the particles and fields instruments are in situ instruments; you have to pass through the atmosphere in order to make the measurements. We were lucky on Voyager, saying, “Hey, you guys, there’s some high energy particles in orbit around Jupiter.” We went on telling them this as we came in, and finally I guess we had them convinced. We were flying close to Io, and a couple of the instruments were saturated and we had to turn down the gain, based on our measurements, because we told them what the density was and all this.
I, as the PI, had a dream one night. I told those guys that Io was volcanic. Unfortunately, we decided not to bring this up, because we thought it would be more trouble. There were a couple of theoreticians, and I think the problem was they couldn’t see how to get material off the satellite and into the atmosphere.
After we got by and I actually had come home, and was settling down here, I got a call from one of our team members at JPL. He said, “Guess what? Imaging has seen plumes, volcanic plumes, on Io.”
It took five or six days to fly by Jupiter because it’s such a big planet, so there was stuff going on every day. Every day there was a press conference, and each of the experimenters would present whatever they had seen the previous day. It was a lot of work. No sooner did we get through a press conference than we started having to figure out what to say the next day. Then we sent that off to the drafters and all that to get the artwork done. Yeah, it was a busy time.
|Directory | LARS | LPL Library | LPL WebMail | Webmaster|
Department of Planetary Sciences
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory
1629 E. University Blvd.
Tucson AZ 85721
Copyright © 2008 Arizona Board of Regents