NASA has just released the first pictures of Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, taken during a flyby by the Juno probe.
Juno passed Ganymede on June 7, making its closest approach at just around 1000 kilometers from its surface while traveling at 66,800 kmh. It’s the closest any probe has come to the moon since Galileo in 2000. The image above was taken by the JunoCam, capturing nearly a whole side of Ganymede at a resolution of 1km per pixel. Another image released was taken by the Stellar Reference Unit, showing off a portion of the moon’s dark side that was lighted by Jupiter itself. More images will be made available in the coming days.
Ganymede is of particular interest to scientists for a number of reasons. It has a metallic core, and is the only moon in the solar system to have its own magnetic field (though this gets pretty well buried by the magnetic field generated by the behemoth Jupiter).