Spacecraft buzzes Jupiter’s mega moon, 1st close-up in years

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s Juno spacecraft has offered the primary close-ups of Jupiter’s largest moon in 20 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 greatest moon.

NASA launched Juno’s first two photos Tuesday, highlighting Ganymede’s craters and lengthy, slim options presumably associated to tectonic faults. One exhibits the moon’s far aspect, reverse the solar.

“This is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation,” stated Juno’s lead scientist, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “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.”

Ganymede is one in every of 79 recognized moons round Jupiter, a fuel big. Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei found Ganymede in 1610, together with Jupiter’s three next-biggest moons.

Launched a decade in the past, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for 5 years.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

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