PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Jane Platt
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 1997
GALILEO TEAM MAKES HISTORIC TREK TO ITALY
Galileo's Project Manager Bill O'Neil, Project Scientist Dr.
Torrence Johnson and a group of other Galileo team members are
savoring memories of their recent visit to Italy, which included
an historic meeting with Pope John Paul II, the presentation of
honorary doctorates by the University of Padua and attendance at
the Three Galileos Conference.
"All of us felt very excited to share with our Italian
colleagues the latest results of the Galileo mission," said
Johnson of the conference, which honored Galileo the man, Galileo
the space mission to Jupiter, and Galileo the new national
telescope of Italy.
O'Neil said of the meeting with the Pope, "None of us ever
anticipated that Project Galileo would result in a papal
audience. The Pope seemed very interested in learning about
Galileo results. He encouraged continuing exploration of the
Johnson said the Pope seemed "very insightful, interested
and satisfied" with the results of the Galileo mission, but that
he urged astronomers "to be conscious of the human aspect" of
their work. An album of Galileo images was presented to the
The Three Galileos Conference was organized by the
University of Padua, the Astronomical Observatory of Padua, NASA,
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the German space agency
Deutsche Agentur fur Raumfahrt-Angelegenheiten, with support from
the International Astronomical Union. Highlights included
Galileo mission results, historical background on the astronomer
Galileo, and dedication of the new 3.5-meter (11.5-foot) National
Telescope Galileo, located in the Canary Islands. More than 20
Galileo team members were invited to present papers. Dr. Les
Deutsch, who designed the inflight recovery of the Galileo
mission using the spacecraft's low-gain antenna, presented an
organ concert of music from Galileo's time in St. Anthony's
The conference setting was of great historical significance,
since Galileo taught in Padua from 1592 to 1610, and it was there
that he made the first observations of what we now call the
Galilean moons of Jupiter—Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. In
fact, the conference was held on some of the very nights of the
year that he discovered the satellites.
Johnson said he "could always imagine Galileo walking into
the room, trying to figure out what we were doing. He'd probably
find it reasonably easy to understand, once he'd picked up some
quantum theories, computer and radio communication techniques.
The fundamentals are still the same."
O'Neil and Johnson were presented with honorary doctorates
from the university, which included an official diploma and
medal. University students provided some moments of levity by
lavishing joke gifts on the honorees, including tin-foil rockets.
O'Neil noted that the conference provided a forum for the
"most comprehensive collection of results from Project Galileo in
one place. Because it was a joint U.S., Italian and German
celebration, it's a very positive sign for future joint missions,
such as Cassini."
The celebration of the Three Galileos will continue through
June 15 with an exhibition, Voyage to the Cosmos, in Padua. The
exhibition is housed in the 13th century Palazzo del Raggion, a
medieval hall with walls covered by an astrological cycle painted
in the 15th century. Highlights of the exhibition include a
replica of Galileo's telescope, a 1/10th scale model of the
Galileo spacecraft and a book of Galileo's results, printed in
Additional information is available on the Galileo Home Page
at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/, and information about the
exhibition is available at http://tregalilei.interbusiness.it/.