NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has published the first detailed images of Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede, which were sent by the automatic interplanetary station Juno.
Ganymede is the largest satellite in the solar system, twice the size of the moon and slightly larger than Mercury. The image shows many craters, the satellite’s surface is composed of ice and silicate rocks.
The image shows the surface of the satellite with previously inaccessible detail: you can see light and dark areas of the surface, as well as characteristic extended structures, probably representing tectonic fractures.
In addition, the station studied the composition and temperature of the satellite’s surface, its ionosphere and magnetic field: this is necessary to understand the influence of Jupiter on the satellite and will be useful in planning subsequent missions to study Ganymede and other satellites of Jupiter.
We’re going to take our time before drawing any scientific conclusions, but until then, we can simply marvel at this celestial miracle – the only moon in our solar system larger than the planet Mercury.
Scott Bolton, lead author at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.