Bill O'Neil, project manager for NASA's eight-year Galileo primary mission that was successfully completed in December 1997, has been honored with the first annual Lunar Gateway Award by a chapter of the National Space Society. The award, presented by the Lunar Reclamation Society, cites O'Neil for his "outstanding service to all mankind for taking us along to Jupiter and its moons: Io, Ganymede, Callisto and especially Europa."
The award was presented on May 24 in Milwaukee during the National Space Society's 17th International Space Development Conference. The Lunar Reclamation Society, one of the oldest chapters of the NSS, has a history of supporting robotic missions, particularly those which study Earth's moon. In the case of the Galileo mission, the award recognizes work in studying the moons of Jupiter.
The Galileo spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter on December 7, 1995, after sending a probe into Jupiter's atmosphere. It has spent the past 2-1/2 years studying the huge planet and its four largest moons. The icy moon Europa is particularly intriguing to scientists because of the prospect that liquid water oceans may lie beneath its surface. Galileo is currently in the midst of a two-year extended mission with a particular focus on studying Europa.
At the May 24 awards ceremony, other honorees included U.S. Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Dr. Carl Sagan, who was honored posthumously with the Robert A. Heinlein Memorial Award.
Additional information about the Galileo mission and images sent back by the spacecraft is available on the Internet at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo/ . Images are also available at: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov .
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