NASA is on the hunt for the moon. Its first stop next week is Ganymede, the biggest, wettest, and strangest satellite in our solar system.

What is the largest moon in the solar system? Larger than the planet Mercury and not much smaller than Mars, Ganymede is set to be explored by a NASA spacecraft which will embark on an exciting extended mission next week.

Satellite of Jupiter, Ganymede will receive on June 7, 2021 the visit of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has just completed its main five-year mission to study the giant planet.

Juno completed this mission in April with his 33rd perijove (close flyby), but instead of then preparing for a ‘death dive’ into Jupiter in July 2021, as originally planned, humanity’s most distant solar-powered spacecraft has had its mission extended to at least in September 2025.

The June 7 Ganymede flyby will see Juno travel within 600 miles / 1,000 kilometers.

It’s super close. T

its low-altitude flight, part of its perijove 34 — will involve a course correction that will see Juno’s orbital period around Jupiter reduced from 53 days to 43 days. It will orbit the giant planet another 42 times, but in a much more focused manner.

This will allow him to perform a close flight over Europe, which he will reach within 200 miles / 320 kilometers on September 29, 2022. He will then be able to fly twice over the volcanic moon of Io, traveling to less than of 900 miles / 1,500 km of it on December 30, 2023 and February 3, 2024.

Juno has already glanced briefly at Ganymede, throwing the first images of its north pole after a flyby on December 26, 2019.

An oceanic moon: why Ganymede is so interesting

Although incredibly cold and with a thin atmosphere, Ganymede remains a tantalizing prospect for finding life beyond Earth.

This is largely because it is believed to contain a saltwater ocean under about 93 miles / 150 kilometers of ice. Astrobiologists argue that it could harbor extremophiles, unicellular microbial life.

7 other things you didn’t know about Ganymede

  • It is the largest of Jupiter’s 79 moons and one of the four so-called Galilean satellites – the frozen moons – around Jupiter, the others being Europa, Callisto and Io.
  • It is the largest moon and the ninth largest object in the solar system.
  • It is the only moon in the solar system to have its own magnetic field.
  • This magnetic field causes auroras, changes that suggest a subterranean ocean containing perhaps 25 times the volume of water in Earth’s oceans.
  • It has a thin oxygen atmosphere, but it’s not breathable, so it’s almost certainly too thin to support life as we know it.
  • It is 26% larger than Mercury, but only 45% as massive. In fact, it is only slightly smaller than Mars.
  • It has previously been photographed by NASA’s Pioneer 10, Voyager and Galileo spacecraft.

What is Juno?

As part of NASA’s New Frontiers midsize planetary science spacecraft program, Juno’s extended mission means it now changes from a mission focused on studying the gravity and magnetic fields of the giant planet. to a full system explorer.

When is the next mission to the moons of Jupiter?

Juno’s extended mission is expected to help NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) plan their next missions to Jupiter and its moons:

China is also planning two missions, the Jupiter Callisto Orbiter (JCO) and the Jupiter System Observer (JSO), which are expected to launch in 2030 and arrive in 2036. The JCO is expected to include a landing on Callisto.

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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Travis Durham

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