Earlier this week, NASA’s Juno spacecraft came within 1 038km of Jupiter’s largest Moon, Ganymede. This is the closest a spacecraft has come to the moon since May 2000.
Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016 following its launch in 2011, but it only came within close proximity to Ganymede this week.
Using its JunoCam imager and its Stellar Reference Unit, we can see Ganymede in remarkable detail.
So why is this image in black and white if it was captured on Monday?
As NASA explains, these images were captured “a strip at a time”.
“Juno is a spin-stabilized spacecraft (with a rotation rate of 2 rpm), and the JunoCam imager has a fixed field of view. To obtain Ganymede images as Juno rotated, the camera acquired a strip at a time as the target passed through its field of view. These image strips were captured separately through the red, green, and blue filters. To generate the final image product, the strips must be stitched together and colors aligned,” explains NASA.
Unfortunately the red and blue filtered strips were not available along with other ancillary information providing precision observation geometry.
“When the final spice kernel data and images from the two filters are incorporated, the images seams (most prevalent on lower right of sphere) will disappear and a complete color image will be generated,” NASA added.
Juno isn’t just photographing Ganymede though. Using the spacecraft NASA hopes to determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere, map the planet’s gravitational and magnetic fields
The spacecraft’s mission is set to conclude in July when its makes its 13th flyby over Jupiter’s cloud tops.
For more on Juno and its Jovian mission, head here.
[Main Image – NASA]