CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s Juno spacecraft has offered the primary close-ups of Jupiter’s largest moon in twenty years.
Juno zoomed previous icy Ganymede on Monday, passing inside 645 miles (1,038 kilometers). The final time a spacecraft got here that shut was in 2000 when NASA’s Galileo spacecraft swept previous our photo voltaic system’s largest moon.
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NASA launched Juno’s first two photos Tuesday, highlighting Ganymede’s craters and lengthy, slim options probably associated to tectonic faults. One exhibits the moon’s far aspect, reverse the solar.
“That is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a technology,” stated Juno’s lead scientist, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Analysis Institute in San Antonio. “We’re going to take our time earlier than we draw any scientific conclusions, however till then we will merely marvel at this celestial surprise – the one moon in our photo voltaic system greater than the planet Mercury.”
Ganymede is one among 79 recognized moons round Jupiter, a gasoline large. Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei found Ganymede in 1610, together with Jupiter’s three next-biggest moons.
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Launched a decade in the past, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for 5 years.