The solar system’s greatest explorer will perish in a kamikaze dive into the solar system’s biggest planet late tomorrow. It detected a saltwater ocean under the ice of Europa…and an unexpected magnetic field around the largest [of Jupiter’s satellites], Ganymede. The mission was meant to last a couple of years. Altogether, Galileo spent 14 years away from Earth. It was designed to survive only so much of the fierce radiation from Jupiter before it failed: it absorbed four times the planned amount and kept on sending photographs and data back to mission control at Pasadena, California.
…It sped past Io as a giant fountain of fire erupted from its volcanic surface, and it detected liquid saltwater on Ganymede and Callisto. And it did all this with a temperamental tape recorder, a main communications antenna that failed to deploy, an onboard computer of the kind used to play Pac-man games, and the spare power to light up a 60-watt bulb.
Pulled from outofambit, Diane Duane’s blog