One of the largest planets in the solar system is Saturn, and it has some of the most intriguing moons in the entire solar system. One of its moons, called Ganymede, is the largest moon in the solar system, and it will get its first close pass by a probe in more than two decades on Monday. The NASA Juno mission has been observing Jupiter and its moons since 2016.
On Monday, Juno will come within 645 miles of the surface of Ganymede. It will be the closest approach a spacecraft is made to the moon since Galileo in May 2000. Ganymede is massive with a diameter of 3270 miles, making it larger than the planet Mercury.
Juno will use its cameras to capture images of the moon and other instruments to gather data to help scientists learn about the Moon’s composition, including its ice shell. Researchers say that Juno has instruments aboard that will allow it to investigate Ganymede in ways not possible in the past.
The close pass by the moon’s surface will allow scientists to bring the exploration of Ganymede into the 21st century. They believe the data gathered by Juno will complement future missions and help prepare for the next generation is of missions to the Jupiter system.
Ganymede is an exciting moon. Not only is it larger than Mercury, but it also has an iron core covered by a layer of rock topped off with a thick layer of ice. Astronomers believe that there may be a subsurface ocean. Using the Hubble Space Telescope in 1996, astronomers also discovered the moon has a thin oxygen atmosphere. However, the atmosphere is too thin to support life.