Ganymede is the largest known moon in our solar system and the only one with its own magnetic field, which causes auroras, or ribbons of glowing, electrified gas, in regions circling its poles. NASA’s Juno will come within 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) of the surface of Ganymede on Monday, June 7, at 1:35 p.m. EDT, and this flyby will be the closest a spacecraft has come to the solar system’s largest natural satellite since Galileo made a close approach back on May 20, 2000. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Aside from the breathtaking imagery, the solar-powered spacecraft’s flyby will provide insights into the moon’s composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and ice shell. The spacecraft’s measurements of the radiation environment near the moon will also help future missions to the Jovian system. Juno will use its science instruments to start collecting data about three hours before the spacecraft’s closest approach using a Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS), Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) and Microwave Radiometer’s (MWR).
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Juno carries a suite of sensitive instruments capable of seeing Ganymede in ways never before possible. By flying so close, we will bring the exploration of Ganymede into the 21st century, both complementing future missions with our unique sensors and helping prepare for the next generation of missions to the Jovian system – NASA’s Europa Clipper and ESA’s [European Space Agency’s] JUpiter ICy moons Explorer [JUICE] mission,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.