On June 7, 2021, NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which is exploring the planet Jupiter, passed close to our Solar System’s largest satellite, Ganymede. It was the closest pass a probe had made to this gigantic natural satellite in 24 years.
The first two images made by Juno arrived on Earth and are presented here for you. The photos were taken by JunoCam, the Juno spacecraft imager and the Stellar Reference Unit camera, and show the surface of Ganymede in really impressive detail, including craters, the clear distinction between lighter terrain and darker terrain, and large structural features, possibly linked to tectonic faults.
Scott Bolton, the lead researcher for the Juno spacecraft pointed out that this is the closest we’ve come to Ganymede in our generation, he also said that these images serve to marvel even before any further scientific investigation, he remembers that this is the only satellite in the Solar System that is larger than a planet, in this case Ganymede is larger than Mercury.
Using its green filter the JunoCam which is a visible light imager captured almost a complete side of the satellite’s frozen crust. Later, when versions of the same image arrive incorporating the blue and red filters, imaging specialists will be able to create a color version of Ganymede. Image resolution is 1 km per pixel.
In addition, Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit, a navigation camera that keeps the probe on course, provided a black-and-white image of the hidden side of Ganymede, that is, the side of the satellite that faces the opposite side of the Sun. , and which is only illuminated by the light that is scattered by Jupiter. The resolution of this image is 600 to 900 meters per pixel.
The conditions under which the image of the hidden side of Ganymede was acquired were ideal for a camera that works in low light as is the case with the Stellar Reference Unit. And this image is interesting because it shows a part of the surface different from that observed by JunoCam with direct sunlight. When this information has been integrated, it will be possible to carry out various interpretations of the satellite.
The probe will send more images over the next few days, and to access the images just click on the link below:
The Juno spacecraft passed through Ganymede in order to get a better idea of its composition, its ionosphere, the magnetosphere and the ice crust, in addition to carrying out measurements of environmental radiation, measures that will be important for future missions. to study Jupiter.
JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Juno mission for its lead researcher, Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno is part of NASA’s Frontiers Program that is managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, built and operates the probe.
More information about the Juno Quest is available at:
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