Juno spacecraft flies 645 miles from Jupiter's largest moon soon

Updated: Jul 15

NASA's Juno spacecraft will fly 645 miles (1,038 km) from Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, on Monday, June 7, and Juno's instruments begin collecting data about three hours before the spacecraft's closest approach.

Juno, which was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in August 2011 to study Jupiter from orbit, will provide insights into the composition and temperature of the moon.

The celestial event will be the closest spacecraft to Ganymede since Galileo in May 2000, with Ganymede 3,280 miles (5,262 kilometers) in diameter, larger than Mercury and the dwarf planet Pluto.

Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field, and NASA's interactive instrument provides real-time updates of Juno's location as it approaches the natural satellite.

Juno will fly near Ganymede at 12 miles per second (19 kilometers per second), which means it will travel from a point of light to a viewable disk and back to a point of light in about 25 minutes.

This will give JunoCam's robotic imager on board enough time to take five pictures of the moon.

Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas said, by flying so close, we'll take Ganymede's exploration into the 21st century. Juno carries a suite of sensitive instruments capable of seeing Ganymede in ways that weren't possible before.

It is worth noting that the solar-powered rotating spacecraft Juno arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after a five-year journey.

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