On December 26 last year, Jupiter approached, thanks to which NASA’s Juno spacecraft was able to capture the Ganymede satellite in infrared light and in high quality. The northern borders of Ganymede were photographed, which are radically different from the points on the equator of the cosmic body. Interestingly, this moon is even larger than Mercury.
According to Alessandro Mura of Rome’s National Institute of Astrophysics, the ice in the north of the satellite has undergone major changes under the influence of plasma, which has been settling for a long time. Thanks to Juno, scientists first learned about this process.
Plasma includes charged solar particles that are captured by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field. Ganymede is a unique moon because it also has its own magnetic field. It makes the plasma concentrate at the poles. Similar features are relevant for the Earth: it is due to the magnetic field that the aurora borealis occur in the north, and not at the equator, for example.
The satellite, 5269 km wide, has no atmosphere. This causes the particles to crash into the ice located at the poles. As a result of all the processes, ice on the moon has acquired an amorphous state at the structural level.
The device “Juno” went into space in 2011, $ 1.1 billion was spent on the mission. In 2016, it reached Jupiter and now orbits it in a highly elliptical orbit. Approach to the planet occurs every 53.5 days. Only in 2019, over almost a decade of the mission, the device managed to capture the details of cosmic bodies, thanks to which experts were able to study the mysterious satellite.
“Juno” was able to take about 300 photographs in the infrared spectrum at a distance of 100 thousand kilometers. According to NASA, the resolution of each image is 23 kilometers per pixel.
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