Researchers from NASA have released the first infrared photograph of Jupiter’s moon. To do this, their device took three flights around the celestial body.
The Juno spacecraft used an infrared instrument during flybys around Jupiter’s moon to create a detailed map of the object. Its publication is timed to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the launch of Juno.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft science team has compiled a new infrared map of the seventh-farthest moon from Jupiter, Ganymede, combining data from three flybys, including the last one on July 20. These observations, made by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), which sees in infrared light invisible to the human eye, provided new information about the ice shell of Ganymede and the composition of the liquid water beneath it.
The JIRAM device was developed to record infrared light emanating from the depths of Jupiter, to study the layer at a depth of 50-70 km below Jupiter’s cloud tops. But the instrument can also be used to study the moons of Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
The researchers noted that Ganymede is larger than Mercury, but almost everything they explore on this mission to Jupiter “is of monumental proportions.” Infrared and other data collected by Juno during the flyby provide fundamental clues to understanding the evolution of Jupiter’s moons from their formation to the present day.
Previously, a large number of oxygen ions were found near Ganymede. Scientists assumed that its source was water molecules, high-energy particles or sun rays which were knocked out of the ice shell of the satellite. In the future, astronomers did not find a single trace of water in the atmosphere of Ganymede.