New images from NASA’s Juno probe have given astronomers a dramatic view of Jupiter’s largest moon.
Flyby shots are the closest look at Ganymede – named after a toast to the ancient Greek gods ̵
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Massive craters are highlighted by bright white terrain and “long structural features,” the agency said in a Tuesday release potentially “linked to tectonic faults.”
The photographs were taken using Jupiter’s orbiter’s JunoCam image processing and its star camera.
The visible light JunoCam camera used its green filter to capture almost an entire side of the icy moon; red and blue filters will be used by image experts to present a color portrait later.
The navigation camera Stellar Reference Unit produced a black-and-white image of Ganymede’s dark side as it glowed in light scattered from Jupiter.
Juno is ready to send more images from Ganymede in the next few days, and the work of the solar-powered spacecraft is expected to give scientists “insight into its composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere and ice shell” as well as measurements of the radiation environment.
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“This is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation,” Juno chief scientist Scott Bolton said in the release. “We will take our time before we draw any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this heavenly wonder.”
Juno Mission is part of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center New Frontiers Program and is operated by the Agency’s Directorate of Science Mission in Washington, DC.
The probe was proposed in 2003, launched in 2011 and first arrived in Jupiter on July 4, 2016. Its primary mission ends in July.
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In January, NASA announced that the Juno mission would be expanded to study the solar system’s largest planet – the full Jovian system through September 2025.
“Since its first orbit in 2016, Juno has provided one revelation after another about the inner workings of this massive gas giant,” said Bolton, “With the expanded mission we will answer basic questions that arose during Juno’s primary mission as we reached beyond. planet to explore Jupiter’s ring system and Galilean satellites. “