Jupiter Space

Hubble Space Telescope

We approached the Jupiter System in a fashion similar to the way a ground vehicle pulls alongside another one moving at almost the same speed. The steady pull of the Sun’s gravity slowed the Mission over the course of the 16 month journey from Earth so that we were only moving slightly faster than Jupiter in his 12 year orbit around the Sun. Once in the system, the Mission had to break up into its component parts so each section could use its engines to nudge itself into an orbit around Jove that would bring it to Callisto. We also needed to use a reverse gravity assist to transfer some of our kinetic energy to Jupiter and thereby shed some velocity. I already went though the basic principles of the gravity assist, so if the subject really interests you, look it up for more information.
“Going back to zero gravity soon, Jamie.”
“Suits me, Augie; any change will be welcome. After 16 months, this tin can is getting a little confining. I like all the folks here, or at least most of them, but a few new faces would be welcome.”
“I hear that. This is going to be a complex maneuver. It ought to be pretty spectacular making the close in pass around Jupiter and then spiraling on out to Callisto. We’ll have a great view of Jupiter and the Galilean moons during the whole time. Our hub and the good old Beagle will be gone forever, though. They will just zip past Jove and head into a long solar orbit. We will be in free fall for a few days while we do all this stuff.”

Excerpt Chapter IV: Jupiter Space

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