NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Buzzes Jupiter’s Mega Moon, First Close-Up in Years

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
June 16, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—NASA’s Juno spacecraft has provided the first close-ups of Jupiter’s largest moon in two decades.

Juno zoomed past icy Ganymede on June 7, passing within 645 miles (1,038 kilometers). The last time a spacecraft came that close was in 2000 when NASA’s Galileo spacecraft swept past our solar system’s biggest moon.

Epoch Times Photo
This image made available by NASA shows the Jovian moon Ganymede as the Juno spacecraft flies by. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS via AP)

NASA released Juno’s first two pictures on June 8, highlighting Ganymede’s craters and long, narrow features possibly related to tectonic faults. One shows the moon’s far side, opposite the sun.

“This is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation,” said Juno’s lead scientist, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “We are going to take our time before we draw any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this celestial wonder—the only moon in our solar system bigger than the planet Mercury.”

Epoch Times Photo
This June 7, 2021, image made available by NASA shows the dark side of the Jovian moon Ganymede as the Juno spacecraft flies by. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI via AP)

Ganymede is one of 79 known moons around Jupiter, a gas giant. Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered Ganymede in 1610, along with Jupiter’s three next-biggest moons.

Launched a decade ago, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for five years.

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The Associated Press
The Associated Press