Pasadena, CA – The science crew for NASA’s Juno spacecraft has produced a brand new infrared map of the mammoth Jovian moon Ganymede, combining knowledge from three flybys, together with its newest strategy on July twentieth.
These observations by the spacecraft’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument, which “sees” in infrared mild not seen to the human eye, present new data on Ganymede’s icy shell and the composition of the ocean of liquid water beneath.
JIRAM was designed to seize the infrared mild rising from deep inside Jupiter, probing the climate layer right down to 30 to 45 miles (50 to 70 kilometers) beneath Jupiter’s cloud tops.
However the instrument will also be used to check the moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto (recognized collectively because the Galilean moons in honor of their discoverer, Galileo).
“Ganymede is bigger than the planet Mercury, however nearly the whole lot we discover on this mission to Jupiter is on a monumental scale,” mentioned Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Analysis Institute in San Antonio. “The infrared and different knowledge collected by Juno throughout the flyby comprise basic clues for understanding the evolution of Jupiter’s 79 moons from the time of their formation to in the present day.”
Juno got here inside 31,136 miles (50,109 kilometers) of Ganymede, the photo voltaic system’s largest moon, on July twentieth, 2021. Throughout earlier flybys on June 7th, 2021, and December 26th, 2019, the solar-powered orbiter got here inside 650 miles (1,046 kilometers) and 62,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), respectively.
The three observational geometries offered a chance for JIRAM to see the moon’s north polar area for the primary time, in addition to examine the variety in composition between the high and low latitudes.
Ganymede can be the one moon within the photo voltaic system with its personal magnetic discipline. On Earth, the magnetic discipline gives a pathway for plasma (charged particles) from the Solar to enter our ambiance and create auroras. As a result of Ganymede has no ambiance to impede their progress, the floor at its poles is continually being bombarded by plasma from Jupiter’s gigantic magnetosphere. The bombardment has a dramatic impact on Ganymede’s ice.
“We discovered Ganymede’s excessive latitudes dominated by water ice, with nice grain dimension, which is the results of the extreme bombardment of charged particles,” mentioned Alessandro Mura, a Juno co-investigator from the Nationwide Institute for Astrophysics in Rome.
“Conversely, low latitudes are shielded by the moon’s magnetic discipline and comprise extra of its authentic chemical composition, most notably of non-water-ice constituents comparable to salts and organics. This can be very vital to characterize the distinctive properties of those icy areas to raised perceive the space-weathering processes that the floor undergoes,” Mura acknowledged.
Juno’s distinctive polar views and closeups of Ganymede construct on observations by NASA’s earlier explorers, amongst them Voyager, Galileo, New Horizons, and Cassini. Future missions with Ganymede of their journey plans embody the ESA (European House Company) JUICE mission, which can discover the icy Galilean moons with an emphasis on Ganymede, and NASA’s Europa Clipper, which can deal with Ganymede’s neighboring ocean world Europa.
10 Years an Explorer
Juno lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Power Station in Florida on August fifth, 2011, at 9:25am PDT (11:25am CDT). After a five-year, 1,740-million-mile (2,800-million-kilometer) journey, it arrived at Jupiter on July 4th, 2016.
“Since launch, Juno has executed over 2 million instructions, orbited Jupiter 35 occasions, and picked up about three terabits of science knowledge,” mentioned Venture Supervisor Ed Hirst of JPL. “We’re thrilled by our ongoing exploration of Jupiter, and there’s way more to come back. We have now began our extended mission and stay up for 42 extra orbits to discover the Jovian system.”
Juno’s prolonged mission, which duties the spacecraft with persevering with its investigations by means of September 2025, consists of shut passes of Jupiter’s north polar cyclones, flybys of the moons Europa and Io (together with Ganymede), in addition to the primary exploration of the faint rings encircling the planet.
It would additionally increase on discoveries Juno has already made about Jupiter’s inside construction, inner magnetic discipline, ambiance (together with polar cyclones, deep ambiance, and aurora), and magnetosphere.
About NASA’s Juno Spacecraft
JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott J. Bolton, of the Southwest Analysis Institute in San Antonio. Juno is a part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASA’s Marshall House Flight Heart in Huntsville, Alabama, for the company’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin House in Denver constructed and operates the spacecraft.
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