orbit, NASA’s Overtake Ganymede on Monday It is the first close-up of the largest moon in the solar system since the Galileo spacecraft flew by in 2000.
“This is the closest spacecraft to any spacecraft. Coming to this enormous moon in a generation,” said Scott Bolton, Juno Principal Investigator at the Southwest Research Institute. said in a statement “We’ll take our time before drawing any scientific conclusions. But even then we can marvel at this wonder of the sky. The only moon in our solar system that is bigger than Mercury.”;
Juno raced by Ganymede at 1:35 p.m. EDT on Monday, passing within a radius of 645 miles from the moon and capturing a sharp view of the crater world. which is thought to be an underground sea beneath the icy crust In addition to capturing fresh images Juno’s science toolkit also collects data.
“Ganymede’s ice crust has bright and dark areas. This indicates that some areas may be pure ice. while other areas There is dirty ice,” Bolton said before flying over Juno, “will provide the first in-depth investigation of how the composition and structure of the ice varies with depth. This leads to a better understanding of how the ice crust forms and the ongoing processes in which the ice surface regenerates over time.”
Juno launched from Cape Canaveral in 2011 and enteredOn July 4, 2016, still going strong at the end of the first two main missions, NASA has now approved two extensions, the latest from this summer through mid-2025.
Created to study Jupiter’s inner depths, its atmosphere, magnetic field, and aurora, Juno has repeatedly traveled closely across the planet’s North Pole. It provides a startling view of a polar storm that has never been seen before. Detects signals of relatively sparse cores and accumulates gigabytes. of data to better understand the overall behavior of the world
The probe’s 53-day polar orbit is set to slowly move its closest point north. as the flight progresses on the other side of the orbit The first spacecraft crossed the equatorial plane beyond Ganymede’s orbit.
But the closest point moved inward throughout the mission. And the latest expansion offers a golden opportunity to fly up close over Ganymede, Europa and Volcano Io.
“We are going to cross the orbital plane near Ganymede. And as the orbit continues forward and further north, the crossing (equatorial) will move further and further,” Bolton said in a previous interview. Ganymede Then we went inside and crossed near Europa. We finally crossed near Io. And then we’re even in Io.”
Monday’s encounter with Gannymede is set to use the moon’s gravity to make its trajectory slightly curved. This shortened Juno’s orbital period by approximately 10 days. In turn, this resulted in an icy Europa flyby on 29 September 2022 and two close flybys of Io on that day. 30 December 2023 and 3 February 2024
Bolton said “We have satellites flying over these nearby that will allow us to point our instruments at the satellites. Get your first close-up analysis. and look for changes since the days of Galileo and Voyager,” Bolton said.
Juno is not equipped with telescopes for close-up narrow-angle observations. On the other hand, the “Junocam” visualization program is primarily intended for wide-angle, context, and public observations. It provides a spectacular hemispherical view of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere.
Bolton expects equally stunning views from the Ganymede, Europa and Io fleets.
“When we are really far away from each other We can’t take high resolution images,” he said. We get a wide field of view with high resolution,” he said. “Make a difference when you look at it. by saying that I understand the context or not.”
Junocam caught Ganymede nearly all sides during the probe’s flight on Monday. Images using various filters It will be later combined to show the color image. It corrects surface appearance as small as 6 out of 10 miles.
Juno’s navigation camera captures the dark side of Ganymede with a zoomed in. which is illuminated by sunlight reflected from Jupiter Additional images stored onboard the spacecraft will be returned later.