National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) released a set of newest photos of Ganymede. It is the ninth-largest object in the solar system. The photos were captured by the Juno spacecraft, during its flyby of Jupiter last year December 26.
The spacecraft’s infrared imagery known as Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument, took photos of the moon’s North Pole.
Ganymede is the only moon in the solar system that is larger than Mercury. It is primarily made up of water ice. The planet’s main composition helps give scientists an idea of how the other 79 Jovian moons were formed and their eventual evolution.
It is worth noting that it is also the only moon in the solar system that has its own magnetic field. With Ganymede not having its own atmosphere as well, the moon receives plasma unimpededly from Jupiter. This has an effect on its icy surface.
Due to this, the ice from its the North Pole has a different structure compared to those in its equator.
NASA’s JIRAM’s design is intended to catch infrared light from Jupiter, with it being able to penetrate its clouds for up to 30 to 45 miles (50 to 70 kilometers) deep. IT can also be used to study the other moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, collectively known as the Galilean moons.
The Juno mission is managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech located in Pasadena, California. It is part of the agency’s New Frontiers Program which is under the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. The Italian Space Agency (ASI) contributed to the project as well.
Data gathered during the flyby missions will be helpful for future expeditions by NASA.