The Galileo Solid-State Imaging experiment

Michael J.S. Belton, Kenneth P. Klaasen, Maurice C. Clary, James L. Anderson, Clifford D. Anger, Michael H. Carr, Clark R. Chapman, Merton E. Davies, Ronald Greeley, Donald Anderson, Lawrence K. Bolef, Timothy E. Townsend, Richard Greenberg, James W. Head, Gerhard Neukum, Carl B. Pilcher, Joseph Veverka, Peter J. Gierasch, Fraser P. Fanale, Andrew P. IngersollHarold Masursky, David Morrison, James B. Pollack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The Solid State Imaging (SSI) experiment on the Galileo Orbiter spacecraft utilizes a high-resolution (1500 mm focal length) television camera with an 800 × 800 pixel virtual-phase, charge-coupled detector. It is designed to return images of Jupiter and its satellites that are characterized by a combination of sensitivity levels, spatial resolution, geometric fiedelity, and spectral range unmatched by imaging data obtained previously. The spectral range extends from approximately 375 to 1100 nm and only in the near ultra-violet region (∼ 350 nm) is the spectral coverage reduced from previous missions. The camera is approximately 100 times more sensitive than those used in the Voyager mission, and, because of the nature of the satellite encounters, will produce images with approximately 100 times the ground resolution (i.e., ∼ 50 m lp-1) on the Galilean satellites. We describe aspects of the detector including its sensitivity to energetic particle radiation and how the requirements for a large full-well capacity and long-term stability in operating voltages led to the choice of the virtual phase chip. The F/8.5 camera system can reach point sources of V(mag) ∼ 11 with S/N ∼ 10 and extended sources with surface brightness as low as 20 kR in its highest gain state and longest exposure mode. We describe the performance of the system as determined by ground calibration and the improvements that have been made to the telescope (same basic catadioptric design that was used in Mariner 10 and the Voyager high-resolution cameras) to reduce the scattered light reaching the detector. The images are linearly digitized 8-bits deep and, after flat-fielding, are cosmetically clean. Information 'preserving' and 'non-preserving' on-board data compression capabilities are outlined. A special "summation" mode, designed for use deep in the Jovian radiation belts, near Io, is also described. The detector is 'preflashed' before each exposure to ensure the photometric linearity. The dynamic range is spread over 3 gain states and an exposure range from 4.17 ms to 51.2 s. A low-level of radial, third-order, geometric distortion has been measured in the raw images that is entirely due to the optical design. The distortion is of the pincushion type and amounts to about 1.2 pixels in the corners of the images. It is expected to be very stable. We discuss the measurement objectives of the SSI experiment in the Jupiter system and emphasize their relationships to those of other experiments in the Galileo project. We outline objectives for Jupiter atmospheric science, noting the relationship of SSI data to that to be returned by experiments on the atmospheric entry Probe. We also outline SSI objectives for satellite surfaces, ring structure, and 'darkside' (e.g., aurorae, lightning, etc.) experiments. Proposed cruise measurement objectives that relate to encounters at Venus, Moon, Earth, Gaspra, and, possibly, Ida are also briefly outlined. The article concludes with a description of a 'fully distributed' data analysis system (HIIPS) that SSI team members intend to use at their home institutions. We also list the nature of systematic data products that will become available to the scientific community. Finally, we append a short 'historical' note outlining the responsibilities and roles of institutions and individuals that have been involved in the 14 year development of the SSI experiment so far.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-455
Number of pages43
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - May 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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