NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, will take a closer look at Jupiter’s largest moon on Monday. Ganymedethe desk said Press release. This will be the next time NASA gets closest to the Solar System’s largest moon in more than 20 years Galileo sailed through Ganymede In 2000 – within 645 miles of the surface. The information Juno collects will provide insight into the composition of the Moon and the ice shell, as well as provide data for future missions to Jupiter.
“Juno has a number of delicate instruments that can see Ganymede as never before,” said lead researcher Scott Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “By flying this close, we are bringing Ganymede exploration into the 21st century, adding our unique sensors to future missions, and building the next generation of missions to the Jovian system.”
These missions include: NASA’s Europa Clipper (start date not yet known) and European Space Agency’s Jupiter ICY World Explorer [JUICE] The mission is scheduled to launch next year and arrive at Jupiter in 2029 (and kudos to ESA for going the extra mile on this acronym).
Ganymede is larger than Mercury and the only moon in the Solar System to have its own magnetosphere, which NASA describes as a “bubble-shaped region of charged particles” around it. JunoCam, which took many of the most impressive images of Jupiter during its mission, will only be able to take five images in flight because Ganymede will all appear and disappear within 25 minutes. Three hours before Juno reaches Ganymede’s closest point, its scientific instruments begin collecting data.
“Almost every second counts,” said Matt Johnson, Juno mission manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “On Monday we will cross Ganymede at a speed of about 19 kilometers per second.” In less than 24 hours, Juno will make its 33rd scientific Jupiter transit, he said.
Juno is expected closest to Ganymede Monday at around 1:35 p.m. ET. You can keep track of where Juno is now with NASA Eyes on the Solar System Interactive.