Infrared Map of Ganymede

, Infrared Map of Ganymede, Innovation ΛI

Using data from the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument onboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft, researchers have produced a new infrared map of the Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, combining data from three flybys, including its latest approach on July 20, 2021.
This annotated map of Ganymede depicts the areas of the icy moon’s surface that were imaged by the JIRAM instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft during two recent close approaches of the moon. The region shaded in blue depicts the area JIRAM covered as Juno flew past at a distance of 100,000 km on December 26, 2019; the infrared camera took 40 images during the encounter. The region shaded in red illustrates JIRAM coverage during the July 20, 2021 flyby, when Juno came within 50,000 km of Ganymede’s surface and JIRAM took 14 infrared images. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / ASI / INAF / JIRAM / USGS.
The Juno spacecraft came within 50,109 km (31,136 miles) of Ganymede on July 20, 2021.
During earlier flybys on June 7, 2021, and December 26, 2019, the orbiter came within 1,046 km (650 miles) and 100,000 km (62,000 miles), respectively.
The three observational geometries provided an opportunity for the JIRAM instrument to see the moon’s north polar region for the first time, as well as compare the diversity in composition between the low and high latitudes.
“Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury, but just about everything we explore on this mission to Jupiter is on a monumental scale,” said Juno principal investigator Dr. Scott Bolton, a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute.
“The infrared and other data collected by Juno during the flyby contain fundamental clues for understanding the evolution of Jupiter’s 79 moons from the time of their formation to today.”
This infrared view of Ganymede was obtained by the JIRAM instrument aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft during the July 20, 2021 flyby. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / ASI / INAF / JIRAM.
Ganymede is the only moon in the Solar System with its own magnetic field.
On Earth, the magnetic field provides a pathway for plasma from the Sun to enter our atmosphere and create aurorae.
Because Ganymede has no atmosphere to impede their progress, the surface at its poles is constantly being bombarded by plasma from Jupiter’s gigantic magnetosphere.
The bombardment has a dramatic effect on Ganymede’s ice.
“We found Ganymede’s high latitudes dominated by water ice, with fine grain size, which is the result of the intense bombardment of charged particles,” said Juno co-investigator Dr. Alessandro Mura, a researcher at the Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics.
“Conversely, low latitudes are shielded by the moon’s magnetic field and contain more of its original chemical composition, most notably of non-water-ice constituents such as salts and organics.”
“It is extremely important to characterize the unique properties of these icy regions to better understand the space-weathering processes that the surface undergoes.”


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