NASA’s Juno probe has just provided the closest images of Jupiter’s ice moon Ganymede that we’ve seen for decades, presenting some incredible glimpses of its surface. Ganymede is the only one in the solar system with the largest moon (larger than Mercury) and its own magnetic field. It has an iron-rich origin and an inland sea that is probably more water than all the oceans on Earth. This is definitely a world to study.
Juno’s main goal is to observe the interior of Jupiter and it provides us with some spectacular images of the gas giant but it also saw many of its moons during the flyby. On June 7, Juno flew over Ganymede, scattering several portraits. The first one taken by Juno Cam shows the ice surface from the notch released from the single green filter and even from the tectonic features. The resolution of the image is about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) per pixel. Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton said in a statement, “This is the largest spacecraft to land on the largest moon of any generation.” Junocam occupies almost the entire side of the water-ice encrypted moon.
“We’ll take our time before we reach a scientific conclusion, but by then we can only be amazed at the wonders of this sky.” Color images using red and blue filters by NASA experts will soon be created that will provide colorful portraits of the moon. Juno also provided a very cool night view of the moon where the light from Jupiter was enough to illuminate the Ganymede for Juno’s Stellar reference unit, a navigation camera.
Heidi Baker, Juno’s radiation monitoring lead, said, “The situation in which we collected the image of the Ganymede’s side was ideal for a low-light camera like our Stellar reference unit.” It will be fun to see what pieces can do.” Juno will return more pictures of his flyby in the next few days, which are available here as raw images, so image experts are only a matter of time to polish these images and we should get some more spectacular views of Ganymede.