NASA’s automated interplanetary station “Juno” has sent the first detailed images of Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede, taken during the recent very close flyby past it. On the images, you can see the surface of Ganymede, covered with craters and networks of furrows. It is expected that in the coming days, the station will transmit all received images, including color, according to the NASA website.
Ganymede, which belongs to the Galilean moons of Jupiter, is considered the largest and most massive satellite in the solar system. It is twice as heavy as the Moon and larger than Mercury, the Moon, or Pluto.
This body is of great interest to planetary scientists, as it has a subsurface ocean, a rarefied atmosphere, an ionosphere, as well as a magnetosphere generated by a liquid core.
Ganymede’s rotation is synchronized with that of Jupiter, and its surface is dotted with a network of grooves and ridges, suggesting collisions with other bodies and tectonic activity.
Despite the fact that it is currently operating in near-Jupiter orbit and is engaged in research of the gas giant, Juno periodically takes time to study its large satellites. In particular, it previously discovered amorphous ice at the poles of Ganymede and a new volcano on Io.
On the evening of June 7, 2021, the station made a very close flyby past Ganymede, being at a distance of 1038 kilometers from the satellite’s surface.
Only one apparatus has ever been closer to the moon ant this was Galileo in September 1996. During the second flyby past the satellite then, it was 260 kilometers from its surface.
During Juno’s flyby, the station investigated differences in the composition and temperature of the surface of Ganymede. In particular, scientists want to understand what impurities water ice contains.
— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) June 7, 2021
In addition, the Juno data should help researchers understand the relationship between Ganymede’s ionosphere, its own magnetic field, and Jupiter’s magnetosphere.
On June 8, NASA’s team published the first images sent to Earth. The general image of Ganymede was taken with the JunoCam camera in the optical wavelength range using a green filter, and the resolution of the photo is about one kilometer per pixel.
A close-up of the surface of the satellite on the side opposite to the Sun was obtained by the Juno star sensor, the image resolution is from 600 to 900 meters per pixel. You can see it above.
It is expected that in the coming days the station will transmit all the received images, including color ones. Then, the collected data on the radiation background near Ganymede will help in the design of new automatic vehicles for studying the Jupiter system.
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• Carter, J. (2021, June 9). In Photos: NASA’s Epic New Images Of Ganymede, The Biggest Moon In Our Solar System.
• Chang, K. (2021, June 8). NASA Just Visited the Solar System’s Biggest Moon.
• Greicius, T. (2021, June 8). See the First Images NASA’s Juno Took As It Sailed by Ganymede.
• NASA. (n.d.). See the First Images NASA’s Juno Took As It Sailed by Ganymede.