Thursday, November 30, 2023

Jupiter's Moon Ganymede: The Solar System's Largest | NASA Juno Mission

Jupiter's Moon Ganymede: The Solar System's Largest | NASA Juno Mission

What does the largest moon in the Solar System look like? Jupiter's moon Ganymede, larger than even Mercury and Pluto, has an icy surface speckled with bright young craters overlying a mixture of older, darker, more cratered terrain laced with grooves and ridges. The cause of the grooved terrain remains a topic of research, with a leading hypothesis relating it to shifting ice plates. Ganymede is thought to have an ocean layer that contains more water than Earth—and might contain life. Ganymede’s ocean is estimated to be 60 miles (100 kilometers) thick—10 times deeper than Earth's ocean—and is thought to be buried under a 95-mile- (150-kilometer-) thick crust of mostly ice. Identifying liquid water is crucial in the search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and in the search for life as we know it. 

Like Earth's Moon, Ganymede keeps the same face towards its central planet, in this case Jupiter. The featured image was captured in 2021 by NASA's robotic Juno spacecraft when it passed by the immense moon. This close pass reduced Juno's orbital period around Jupiter from 53 days to 43 days. Juno continues to study the giant planet's high gravity, unusual magnetic field, and complex cloud structures. Ganymede is also the only moon in the Solar System to have a magnetosphere. 

The European Space Agency's JUICE Mission will arrive at Ganymede in 2031 to conduct investigations. 

Learn more about Europe's JUICE Mission:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott J. Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.

More information about NASA's Juno Mission:

Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Image Processing & License: Kevin M. Gill

Kevin's Page on X:

Release Date: Nov. 28, 2023

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