Jupiter’s largest moon welcomed visitors on Monday.
NASA’s spacecraft Juneau reached within 645 miles of Ganymede, the largest satellite in the solar system.
The flyby was the closest spacecraft to Ganymede since the NASA Galileo spacecraft flew on May 20, 2000.
“Juno has a series of sensitive devices that allow us to see Ganymede in ways never before possible,” said Scott Bolton, senior researcher at the Southwest Institute. statement Issued before the flyby on Monday.
“Flying very close will bring Ganymede exploration into the 21st century, complement future missions with unique sensors, and help prepare for the next generation of missions to the Jupiter system,” he said. I did.
A photo of Ganymede’s flyby on Monday should be back on Earth by this Friday, NASA spokesman David Aigle told USA TODAY.
In addition to impressive images, the sun-powered spacecraft flyby was expected to provide insights into the composition of the Moon, the ionosphere, the magnetosphere, and the ice shell.
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According to NASA, Ganymede is larger than Mercury and less than half the size of Earth. It is also the moon with the only magnetosphere in the solar system. This is a bubble-like area of charged particles that surrounds the moon.
To date, the only spacecraft that can often see Ganymede were the NASA Twin Voyager spacecraft in 1979 and the Galileo spacecraft in 2000. Space.com Said.
According to Space.com, this giant Jupiter moon will be the primary target of the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission, known as JUICE, which will be launched next year and will arrive in the Jupiter system in 2029. ..
Matt Johnson, mission manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement prior to Ganymede’s flyby that it was the beginning of a busy day for Juneau. Less than 24 hours later, we are implementing Jupiter’s 33rd Science Pass. From the top of the cloud, it is buzzing at a rate of about 36 miles per second.
“It’s going to be a wild vehicle,” Johnson said.
This article was originally published in USA TODAY. Ganymede: NASA spacecraft Juneau flies on Jupiter’s moon