NASA’s Juno spacecraft has provided the first close-up shots of Jupiter’s largest moon in two decades.
Juno passed the Ganymede glacier on Monday, passing within 645 miles (1,038 kilometres). The last time a spacecraft got this close was in 2000 when NASA’s Galileo spacecraft swept into our solar system’s largest moon.
NASA released the first two images of Juno on Tuesday, highlighting Ganymede craters and long, narrow features that may be associated with tectonic faults. One shows the far side of the moon, opposite the sun.
“This is the closest spacecraft to this giant moon in a generation,” said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We’ll take our time before we draw any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this celestial wonder – the only moon in our solar system is bigger than Mercury.”
Ganymede is one of the 79 known moons around Jupiter, the gas giant. The Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered Ganymede in 1610, along with the three largest moons of Jupiter.
Launched a decade ago, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for five years.
NASA’s Juno Takes a Closer Look at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede
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