NASA's Galileo spacecraft will execute a trajectory correction maneuver Wednesday, March 20, to help aim it for the first-ever flyby of an asteroid next October.
In the maneuver Galileo will fire its small thrusters on and off during a period beginning at about 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) and concluding at about 1:30 p.m. PST. The firings will result in a velocity change of about 5 miles per hour.
The maneuver, together with three more planned in July and October, will shape Galileo's flight path for its flyby of Gaspra in the main asteroid belt on October 29.
Galileo will be the first spacecraft to fly by an asteroid when it approaches within about 1,000 miles of the irregularly shaped, stony lump measuring nearly 15 miles across.
The spacecraft has an opportunity for another asteroid encounter in 1993 en route to its destination, the giant planet Jupiter and its system of moons.
The Galileo Project is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications.
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