Bob Mitchell of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, has been appointed project manager of NASA'S Galileo Europa Mission, an extension of the Galileo spacecraft mission which has spent the past two years studying Jupiter, its magnetosphere and its four largest satellites.
The Galileo Europa Mission began on Dec. 7 and will continue through December 1999. During the next two years, Galileo will fly by Europa eight times, focusing on the intriguing possibility that liquid oceans may be hidden underneath Europa's icy crust. The spacecraft will also feature four close flybys of Jupiter's moon Callisto and one or two close flybys of the volcanic moon Io, as long as the spacecraft remains healthy.
For the past year, Mitchell has served as Galileo Mission Director. Bill O'Neil, who served as project manager for the primary mission, will serve as a consultant on the senior staff of JPL's Telecommunications and Mission Operations Directorate while awaiting his next assignment at the Laboratory.
"I've been involved with the Galileo mission since its beginning in 1977, and have been at the helm since 1990 for the flight to Jupiter, the first-ever outer planet entry and orbit insertion, and throughout the two-year primary mission tour of the Jovian system," O'Neil said. "I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have had this priceless, truly unique experience. But it is time for new challenges. I am delighted to turn the reins over to Bob Mitchell. Having worked closely with Bob for more than 25 years, I know that he will do a superb job leading the team."
"Considering how much the primary mission has accomplished," Mitchell said, "maintaining the pace with the reduced resources available to us in the Galileo Europa Mission is going to be a real challenge. But we have an excellent team in place, and I'm looking forward to it."
Mitchell, who was born in Springville, Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR , and holds masters' degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics. Since joining JPL in 1965, he has worked on trajectory design, mission design, and navigation for planetary exploration projects such as Mariner '67, Mariner '69, Mariner '71, the Viking mission to Mars and Galileo.
As the Galileo mission design manager from 1979 to 1988, Mitchell led the development of numerous redesigns of the mission when the launch date slipped from January 1982 to October 1989. He led the NASA-honored team that developed the innovative Venus- Earth-Earth Gravity Assist (VEEGA) trajectory to give the spacecraft the velocity boost it needed to reach Jupiter. Mitchell also received NASA Exceptional Achievement Awards for his work on Viking navigation and Galileo mission design. From 1988 to 1993, Mitchell managed JPL's mission design section, and served as manager of the Galileo science and sequence office from 1993 through 1996.
Mitchell lives with his wife in Northridge, CA.
Additional information on the Galileo program is available on the Internet at the following URL: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo
JPL is managed for NASA by California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA.
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