Earlier this week, NASA’s Juno spacecraft made its first pass of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and NASA has now released the first two images of this.
When Juno passed Ganymede at a distance of about 1,000 kilometers on June 7, Juno’s JunoCam camera imaged almost an entire side of the icy moon that you can see above. Juno’s Navigation Camera “Stellar Reference Unit” also captured an image of Ganymede’s dark side which you can check out below. Juno is expected to send home more photos of Ganymede in the coming days.
Ganymede is the largest moon of Jupiter and our solar system. Its diameter is 5,268 km, which is 41 percent of the Earth’s circumference. With Ganymede bypassed, scientists hope to gain more information about the Moon’s composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere, radiation levels and ice cap. Something that might be interesting for future trips to Jupiter and its 79 known moons so far.
The solar-powered Juno spacecraft left Earth in August 2011 and reached Jupiter in July 2016. The Juno mission will continue at least until 2022.