Juno spacecraft has brought us some of the most incredible photos of Jupiter over the last few years. It recently flew close to Jupiter’s giant moon Ganymede, and it’s the closest any spacecraft flew to it in more than 20 years. During its flyby, Juno took some photos, and as usual – it didn’t disappoint. The first two images were sent back to Earth and they give us a wonderful and detailed look at the icy mammoth.
The first two images arrived on Earth on 7 June. The first was taken with JunoCam imager, showing Jupiter’s largest moon in great detail. Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton said about the images:
“This is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation. We are going to take our time before we draw any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this celestial wonder – the only moon in our solar system bigger than the planet Mercury.”
The second photo was taken with Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit, a navigation camera that keeps the spacecraft on course. It’s another remarkably detailed photo, and what you see here is the “dark side of the moon.” In other words, it’s Ganymede’s side that’s opposite the Sun, lit by dim light scattered off Jupiter. “Image resolution is between 0.37 to 0.56 miles (600 to 900 meters) per pixel,” NASA explains.
Both photos are incredibly detailed, showing craters, dark and bright spots in Ganymede’s terrain, and long structural features that are possibly linked to tectonic faults, as NASA explains. If you like them as much as I do, you’ll be happy to hear that there are more photos to come. I’m looking forward to it, and you?