PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011

Contact: Franklin O'Donnell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 March 3, 1994


       NASA's Galileo spacecraft observed what is probably a natural satellite of the asteroid Ida -- which would be the first moon of an asteroid ever sighted -- during its flyby last August 28, scientists have reported.

       The object is revealed in data samples now being transmitted by the spacecraft and analyzed by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

       Sampled data from both Galileo's solid-state imaging system and its near-infrared mapping spectrometer give indications of the object.

       Because Galileo has been transmitting data back to Earth at a low rate of 40 bits per second, a complete image of the suspected moon will first become available in about three weeks.

       Galileo has completed nearly 90 percent of its 3.8-billionkilometer (2.4-billion-mile) journey to Jupiter. It will go into orbit around the giant planet after exploring the atmosphere with an instrumented probe on December 7, 1995. JPL manages the Galileo project for NASA's Office of Space Science.


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3/3/94 JHW
#9515