One of the largest planets in the solar system, Saturn has some of the most interesting moons in the entire solar system. One of its moons, called Ganymede, is the largest in the solar system, and on Monday it will receive its first spacecraft in more than two decades. NASA’s Juno mission has been observing Jupiter and its moons since 2016.
On Monday Juno will reach 645 miles from 45 the surface from Ganymede. It will be as close as possible to the Moon than a Galileo spacecraft in May 2000. Ganymede is huge with a diameter of 3,270 miles, making it larger than the planet Mercury.
Juno will use its cameras to take pictures of the moon and other data-collecting tools to help scientists learn about the moon’s composition, including its ice shell. Researchers claim Juno has tools on board that allow it to investigate Ganymede in ways that weren’t possible in the past.
A passage near the lunar surface will allow scientists to enter the exploration of Ganymede in the 21st century. They believe that the data collected by Juno will complete future missions and help prepare for the next generation of missions in the Jupiter system.
Ganymede is a sexy moon. Not only is it larger than Mercury, but it also has an iron core covered in a layer of rock topped with a thick layer of ice. Astronomers think there may be an ocean beneath the surface. Using the Hubble Space Telescope in 1996, astronomers also found that the moon has a thin atmosphere of oxygen. However, the atmosphere is too thin to support life.