Illustration of Galileo at Jupiter

NASA's Galileo spacecraft Saturday afternoon completed a two-day maneuver to shape its course for a gravity-assist flyby of Earth in December, designed to help it reach Jupiter in 1995.

The Galileo flight team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory monitored the computer-controlled operations as the rotating spacecraft pulsed its tiny lateral thrusters a total of nearly 3,000 times. The series of pulses, which took nearly 14 hours to complete in two daily sessions, slowed Galileo in its course by about 25 mph.

This is the second trajectory-correction maneuver since Galileo's gravity-assist flyby of Venus in February, and the fourth since launch in October 1989. Four more small maneuvers are planned to fine-tune the Earth flyby.

With a final Earth flyby in late 1992, Galileo will have built up the correct velocity to reach Jupiter in December 1995. There it will send a probe into the giant planet's atmosphere and fly a series of orbits around Jupiter and its satellites, studying that planetary system for almost two years.

The Galileo Project is managed for NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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