Space: Nuclear Fears About Galileo

Fears About Galileo The Jupiter probe will carry 50 lbs. of radioactive plutonium

If the shuttle Atlantis lifts off this week from its Cape Canaveral launch pad as planned, astronomers will let out a long-delayed cheer. At last the Galileo mission, which has languished for more than a decade because of technical debates and the Challenger explosion, will be getting under way. Astronauts on Atlantis will release the Galileo spacecraft, setting it on a six-year, 2.5 billion-mile journey to Jupiter. There the probe will take the first direct measurements of the planet's dense clouds and hurricane-like winds.

Few doubt the scientific value of the Galileo flight. Nonetheless, a sharp controversy has dogged the mission....

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