Galileo gawks at Gaspra
NASA/JPL’s Galileo space probe, looping repeatedly through the inner solar system to gain a speed boost from a series of gravity assists from Earth and Venus, passes the asteroid 951 Gaspra, the first human-made spacecraft to visit such a body. Where humanity’s previous knowledge of asteroids was limited at best, Galileo’s findings are startling, with photos showing a small rocky body pummeled by ancient impacts, almost to the point of shattering it. Also discovered is a magnetic field generated by the core of the asteroid itself, something planetary scientists did not expect to find at all. Galileo will loop back toward Earth, picking up a critical speed boost to Jupiter from one last flyby of its home planet.