Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury and is the only moon in the solar system with its own magnetosphere, a bubble-shaped region of charged particles that surround the celestial body.
This Monday, June 7, at 17.35 UTC, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will pass just 1,038 kilometers from the surface of the largest moon of Jupiter and the Solar System, Ganymede.
Closest since 2000
The flyby will be the closest a spacecraft has been to the solar system’s largest natural satellite since NASA’s Galileo spacecraft made its penultimate close approach on May 20, 2000 .
The flyby of the solar powered spacecraft will yield information on the composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere and ice sheet of the moon. Juno’s measurements of the radiation environment near the moon will also benefit future missions to the Jovian system .
According to Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio:
Juno carries a suite of sensitive instruments capable of seeing Ganymede in ways never before possible. By flying so close, we will bring Ganymede exploration into the 21st century, supplementing 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 JUICE mission.
On Monday, we will pass through Ganymede at nearly 12 miles per second. Less than 24 hours later, we will be making our 33rd Jupiter Science Pass, hovering over the cloud tops at approximately 58 kilometers per second. It’s going to be a wild ride.