NASA’s Juno will conduct observations within 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) of Jupiter’s largest satellite, Europa, and collect important observational data. On Monday, June 7, at 1:35 pm Eastern Time (11:05 pm IST), this flyby will be the closest spacecraft to the solar system’s largest natural satellite since NASA Galileo in May 2000. The spacecraft will also have an in-depth understanding of Ganymede’s composition, ionosphere, magnetosphere, and ice crust. The Galileo spacecraft was as low as 162 miles (261 kilometers) above the surface of the Galileo satellite, generating detailed images.
The space agency stated that Juno will begin collecting data at least three hours before approaching the closest point of the largest satellite in the solar system. In terms of instruments, NASA said that in addition to the ultraviolet spectrometer (UVS) and the Jupiter infrared auroral mapper (JIRAM), Juno’s microwave radiometer (MWR) will also investigate Europa’s water ice crust and collect information about its composition. And temperature data.
A report by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) quoted Juno’s lead researcher Scott Bolton as saying that the spacecraft carried a set of sensitive instruments that could observe Europa in an unprecedented way. “Through such a close flight, we will bring Ganymede’s exploration into the 21st century, not only supplementing future missions with our unique sensors, but also helping to prepare for the next generation of Jupiter system missions-NASA’s Europa Express Ship and the ESA (European Space Agency’s) Jupiter ICy Satellite Explorer (JUICE) mission,” he said.
Bolton added that Jupiter’s largest moon has bright and dark areas, indicating that some areas may be pure ice, while other areas may also contain dirty ice. He said that the MWR instrument will for the first time in-depth study of how the composition and structure of ice change with depth, helping us to better understand how ice crusts form and the continuous process of resurfaced over time.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory report stated that Ganymede is larger than Mercury and is the only satellite in the solar system with its own magnetosphere—a bubble-like region of charged particles surrounding a celestial body.
According to Space.com, several spacecraft in the past, including Pioneer 10 in 1973, Pioneer 11 in 1974, Voyager 1, and Voyager 2, have all flown Ganymede and Astonishing photos were sent back during the flight. The Galileo spacecraft traveled as low as 162 miles (261 kilometers), flew over the surface of the Galileo satellite and produced detailed images.
According to the information on NASA’s Juno overview page, Juno’s main goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter.
The space agency said that under its dense cloud cover, Jupiter protects the secrets of the basic processes and conditions that control the solar system during the formation of the solar system. This planet can also provide key knowledge for understanding planetary systems found around other stars.