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NASA spacecraft captures stunning views of the icy Jupiter moon Ganymede



The NASA Juno spacecraft JunoCam captured this stunning Ganymede portrait on June 7, 2021.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS

In January, NASA extended the mission to its Jupiter student Juno spacecraft that gives it a new frontier to explore: the wild moons of the gas giant. Now Juno has given us amazing new close-ups of the fascinating Ganymede, Jupiter̵

7;s largest moon.

Ganymede is an icy world hides a salty sea underground. Juno snapped the view during a close flyby on Monday. Craters and striped landscape features stand out in a shot from the spacecraft’s JunoCam image processing.

“This is the closest a spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation,” Juno chief scientist Scott Bolton said in a NASA statement Tuesday. “We will take our time before drawing any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this celestial wonder – the only moon in our solar system that is larger than the planet Mercury.”

Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit navigation camera took this shot from Ganymede’s dark side on June 7, 2021.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI

Another image from Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit navigation camera shows the dark side of Ganymede and highlights some of the moon’s many craters.

As more Juno data returns to Earth, scientists will be able to compile a color portrait of Ganymede.

Flyby is not only for the beautiful pictures. NASA said Juno is studying the moon’s “composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere and ice shell, while providing measurements of the radiation environment that will benefit future missions to the Jovis system.”

Launched in 2011, Juno was originally scheduled to complete its mission in July 2021, but will now continue its work until September 2025 or the end of its life, whichever comes first.

This first taste of Ganymede suggests the intriguing images we have to look forward to. Forward, Juno.

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