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Spacecraft buzzes Jupiter's mega moon, 1st close-up in years

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jun 08, 2021

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA's Juno spacecraft has provided the first close-ups of Jupiter's largest moon in two decades.

Juno zoomed past icy Ganymede on Monday, passing within 645 miles.

It's the closest any spacecraft has come to our solar system's biggest moon since NASA's Galileo spacecraft swept past in 2000.

NASA released two pictures Tuesday, highlighting Ganymede's craters and long features possibly related to tectonic faults.

NASA said the pictures were captured from the JunoCam imager and its Stellar Reference Unit star camera.

“This is the closest any spacecraft has come to this mammoth moon in a generation,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, in a news release. “We are going to take our time before we draw any scientific conclusions, but until then we can simply marvel at this celestial wonder.”

Ganymede is bigger than the planet Mercury.

It is one of 79 known moons around Jupiter.

Launched a decade ago, Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for five years.