NASA's Galileo orbiter at Jupiter ended its mission in 2003 by intentionally dive into the gas planet. Did it take and transmit any close up images before it ceased to function? If not, why? Are there any images from Galileo, or its separate impactor probe, which show the Jovian clouds from close enough range that their topology is discernible?

On all images I've seen, Jupiter looks like a perfect sphere because of its huge size and far distances from which it has been imaged. But if two spacecrafts have dived into it, there should be close up images of its clouds, right?


The wonderful article linked by Wayfaring Stranger in the comments alludes to the reason for not sending photographs, but does not answer the question directly. As with most spacecraft outside Earth or Lunar orbit, the data rate is extraordinarily low. This page gives data rates for the current Rosetta mission, which are on the order of a dozen or two KiB/s. So a 10 MiB uncompressed image file would take 15 minutes to send. Though it would be an undoubtedly interesting photograph, it would come at the opportunity cost of magnetic readings, temperature readings, radiation readings, and other important scientific data which would help plan our next probe to survive the environment.

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    $\begingroup$ Luckily, this might change dramatically since laser communication in space is being successfully tested. 1.8 gigabits/s European Data Relay System (EDRS) is the latest example, near Earth. First image downloaded by laser. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff Nov 30 '14 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff: EDRS is designed to work between satellites on the scale of 10⁴ km. Jupiter is almost about 10⁹ km far from us. The strength of the signal would be lower by many magnitudes. Here is a nice illustration of a laser beam divergence. $\endgroup$ – pabouk Nov 30 '14 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ Galileo's data rate was reduced considerably by the failure of its main antenna to deploy. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – Keith Thompson Dec 1 '14 at 23:41

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