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The first photos of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede are sent back by NASA’S Jupiter probe

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Orbiting Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft, flew over Ganymede on Monday, showing the first close-up of the solar system’s largest satellite since the Galileo orbiter passed for the last time in 2000.

“It’s as close as possible. Any spacecraft is here—the moon in this huge generation,” said Scott Bolton, principal researcher on the Juno at Southwest Research Institute, in a statement. “Before we come to scientific conclusions, we will take it slowly, but until then, we can only marvel at this celestial miracle, which is the only moon in our solar system larger than Mercury.” Juno ran at 1:35 pm Over Ganymede. On Monday, US Eastern Time, hovering about 645 miles from the moon, captured a clear view of the crater world, which is believed to have an underground ocean under the ice crust. In addition to capturing fresh images, Juno’s scientific instrument suite also collected data. “The Ganymede Ice Sheet has some bright and dark areas, which indicates that some areas may be pure ice, while other areas may contain dirty ice,” Bolton said before flying by. Juno “will conduct an in-depth study of how the composition and structure of ice change with depth for the first time, so as to better understand how the ice sheet forms and the continuous process of resurfaced over time.” 

It entered in 2011 and entered orbit around Jupiter on July 4, 2016. It was still valid at the end of the first two years of the main mission, and NASA has now approved two extensions, the last being from this summer to mid-2025. Deep inside, the atmosphere, the magnetic field, and the aurora, Juno has repeatedly passed the planet’s north pole at close range, providing an unprecedented view of a polar storm and detecting some signs of a diffuse core. And collect gigabytes of data to understand the general behavior of the earth better. As the flight progresses, the probe’s 53-day polar orbit will slowly move its nearest approach point northward. On the other side of the orbit, the spacecraft initially crossed the equatorial plane, far beyond Ganymede’s orbit. Still, the closest approach point moved inwards throughout the mission, and the closest extension provided gold for a close flight over Europe’s Europa Three chances.

Monday’s Europa encounter used the moon’s gravity to bend its orbit slightly, shortening Juno’s orbital period by about 10 days. In turn, this will establish an icy Europa flyby on September 29, 2022, and two close flybys of Io on December 30, 2023, and February 3, 2024. “So we have a close flyby of these satellites, and they are now going to allow us to point the instrument at the satellite, perform the first close analysis and look for changes in the era of Galileo and Voyager,” Bolton said. Jun is not equipped with telescopes for close-range and narrow-angle observations. On the contrary, its “Junocam” imager is mainly designed for wide-angle, public-range background observations, providing spectacular hemispherical views of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere. Bolton hopes to see the same impressive scenery from the overflights of Europa, Europa, and Europa. During the probe flyby on Monday, Junokam captured almost the entire side of Ganymede. Lenses using different filters will later be combined to provide a color view, resolving surface features as small as six-tenths of a mile. Juno’s navigation camera captured a magnified view of the dark side of Ganymede, illuminated by sunlight reflected by Jupiter. Other images stored on the spacecraft will be transmitted later. 

Orbiting Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft, flew over Ganymede on Monday, showing the first close-up of the solar system’s largest satellite since the Galileo orbiter passed for the last time in 2000. “It’s as close as possible. Any spacecraft is here—the moon in this huge generation,” said Scott Bolton, principal researcher on the Juno at Southwest Research Institute, in a statement. “Before we come to scientific conclusions, we will take it slowly, but until then, we can only marvel at this celestial miracle, which is the only moon in our solar system larger than Mercury.” Juno ran at 1:35 pm Over Ganymede. 

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