This picture of Ganymede was acquired by the JunoCam imager during Juno’s June 7, 2021, flyby the the ... <+> icy moon.


NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter this week obtained to in ~ 645 miles/1,000 kilometers the Ganymede, the Solar System’s largest moon.

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The spacecraft’s JunoCam imaging system had actually just 25 minutes to take photographs, simply long enough for five exposures, before it then acquired close to Jupiter because that the 33rd time.

Bigger 보다 Mercury and only slightly smaller than Mars, images are currently coming back from Juno that Ganymede’s pock-marked, gorgeously grooved and also patterned surface.

This picture of the dark side of Ganymede was derived by Juno’s Stellar recommendation Unit navigating ... <+> camera during its June 7, 2021, flyby of the moon.


The Juno science team will now scour the images, to compare them come those native previous missions, looking for alters in surface attributes that can have occurred in the twenty years since Ganymede to be last photographed.

“Things usually occur pretty fast in the people of flybys ... Every second counts,” claimed Juno Mission Manager Matt Johnson the JPL. ~ above Monday, Juno raced past Ganymede in ~ 12 miles/19 kilometers per second and top top Tuesday that skimmed the cloud tops of Jupiter at 36 miles/58 kilometers every second.

bigger than both Mercury and also Pluto and also only a third smaller than Mars, Ganymede has actually a diameter that 3,273 miles/5,268 kilometers. The the biggest moon and also the ninth-largest thing in the Solar System.

The best of Jupiter’s 79 moons, Ganymede is just one of the 4 Galilean satellites, the various other being Europa, Callisto and Io.These icy Jovian moons were first discovered through Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610.

Could Ganymede support life? it does have actually a slim oxygen atmosphere, yet it’s no breathable. However, single-cell microbial life can exist in that subterranean ocean.

About 10 times deeper than Earth’s oceans and thought come contain much more water 보다 is found on Earth, Ganymede’s ocean is reckoned to be 60 miles/100 kilometers thick and also buried under an icy crust around 95 miles/150 kilometers thick.

“Ganymede’s ice cream shell has actually some light and dark regions, arguing that some locations may it is in pure ice cream while other locations contain dirty ice,” claimed Juno major Investigator Scott Bolton that the Southwest study Institute in san Antonio. “MWR will administer the first in-depth examination of just how the composition and structure of the ice varies v depth, bring about a much better understanding of just how the ice covering forms and the continuous processes the resurface the ice cream over time.”

Ganymede is additionally the just moon in the Solar mechanism with a magnetic field—a bubble-shaped region of fee particles. Scientists have actually spotted aurorae—as ribbons that glowing, hot electrified gas—around its poles.

It’s the movement of the aurorae—which rock back and forth as Ganymede’s magnetic field interacts with nearby Jupiter’s—that enabled scientists to determine that a large amount that saltwater exists beneath Ganymede’s crust.

To present the ideal information in a solitary view that Jupiter"s moon Ganymede, a an international image mosaic ... <+> to be assembled, combine the best accessible imagery from NASA"s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft and NASA"s Galileo spacecraft. This photo shows Ganymede focused at 200 west longitude. This mosaic (right) offered as the basic map for the geologic map the Ganymede (left).

USGS Astrogeology scientific research Center/Wheaton/NASA/JPL-Caltech

“As Juno overcome behind Ganymede, radio signals will certainly pass with Ganymede’s ionosphere, causing little changes in the frequency that must be picked up by two antennas in ~ the Deep space Network’s Canberra facility in Australia,” stated Dustin Buccino, a signal analysis engineer for the Juno mission at JPL. “If we deserve to measure this change, us might be able to understand the connection in between Ganymede’s ionosphere, that is intrinsic magnetic field, and Jupiter’s magnetosphere.”

The shallow, scalloped depression in the center of this photo from NASA"s Galileo spacecraft is a ... <+> caldera-like function 5 to 20 kilometers broad on Jupiter"s largest moon, Ganymede. Galileo. (Photo by: Universal history Archive/Universal Images team via Getty Images)

universal Images team via Getty photos

Previously photographed through NASA’s Pioneer 10, Voyager, Galileo and the passing new Horizons spacecraft, Juno’s images reveal a two varieties of terrain ~ above Ganymede—highly cratered, darker regions and also lighter terrain that’s grooved and patterned.

Along with the Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS) and Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instruments, Juno’s Microwave Radiometer’s (MWR) peered right into Ganymede’s water-ice crust,obtaining data ~ above its composition and temperature.

The north pole of Ganymede have the right to be watched in facility of this annotated picture taken by the JIRAM infrared ... <+> imager board NASA"s Juno spacecraft on Dec. 26, 2019. The thick line is 0-degrees longitude.


Juno already had a short look in ~ Ganymede, returning the first-ever images of itsnorth pole ~ a flyby top top December 26, 2019. However, this week’s flyby is by much its closest examination of the gigantic moon.

Having just completed its core five-year mission surveying the large planet, Juno’s 34 perijove—close flyby—of Jupiter sees it in a new, shorter orbit of the giant planet. Its brand-new trajectory has actually been carefully planned come make sure that Juno it s okay close come two other moons that Jupiter during its remaining 42 orbits with 2025.

The Galilean satellites space the four largest moons that Jupiter—Io, Europa, Ganymede, and also Callisto.


The farthest solar-powered spacecraft indigenous Earth, Juno will acquire to within 200 miles/320 kilometers that Europa on September 29, 2022 and then flyby the volcano moon that Io twice, getting to in ~ 900 miles/1,500 kilometres of that on both December 30, 2023 and on February 3, 2024.

It’s possible that there will be a more mission expansion after that if the spacecraft and its battery remain healthy, though at some point it will perform a “death dive” into Jupiter to prevent it coincidentally crashing into—and polluting—one the Jupiter’s moons., all of which room on NASA’s to-do list in its find for traces that life.

“Juno carries a suite of sensitive instruments capable of seeing Ganymede in methods never prior to possible,” said Bolton. “By paris so close, we will bring the exploration of Ganymede right into the 21st century, both complementing future missions with our unique sensors and helping prepare for the next generation of objectives to the Jovian system—NASA’s Europa Clipperand the European an are Agency’s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer(JUICE) mission.”

Part of NASA’s brand-new Frontiers regimen of medium-sized planetary science spacecraft, Juno’s expanded mission way it’s now relocating from a mission focused on studying the gigantic planet’s gravity and also magnetic areas to a full system-explorer.

Wishing you clear skies and large eyes.

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I"m an proficient science, an innovation and take trip journalist and also stargazer writing around exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, moon-gazing,astro-travel,

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I"m an proficient science, modern technology and travel journalist and also stargazer writing about exploring the night sky, solar and also lunar eclipses, moon-gazing,astro-travel, astronomy and room exploration. I"m the editor the and also the author of "A Stargazing routine for Beginners: A Pocket ar Guide" (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides.