Jupiter's Monster-Sized Moon Ganymede Casts Massive Shadow on the Planet

NASA Juno spacecraft takes stunning image of Jupiter 6 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS, Image processing by Brian Swift
NASA's Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, collecting data on the gas giant's distinctive atmospheric features. It has also sent back incredible photos of the planet and its moons. The latest image captured by the spacecraft is nothing short of impressive – the shadow of Ganymede cast on Jupiter looks like a giant dark smudge.
Ganymede is one of Jupiter's many moons. What makes this icy world special is its size: it's the largest satellite that orbits the planet. In fact, it's the biggest moon in our Solar System. It has a radius of 1,635 miles (2,631 km), which makes it bigger than both Mercury and Pluto.

NASA's Juno spacecraft has been making close approaches to the giant moon over the years and even managed to take detailed photographs of it in June 2021. As it orbits Jupiter, the spacecraft continues to snap incredible photos of the planet and its moons.

Back in February, Juno captured the massive dark shadow of Ganymede stamped on Jupiter. The picture was acquired during the missions' 40th flyby when the spacecraft was above the giant's colorful clouts, at an altitude of 44,000 miles (71,000 kilometers).

That's 15 times closer to Jupiter than its moon Ganymede, which orbits about 666,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) away. And since JunoCam captured this image from a close distance, it makes the shadow appear even larger.

If someone were to stand inside the perimeter of the dark spot, on top of Jupiter's clouds, they would see a total eclipse of the Sun. That's a phenomenon you don't get to see on Earth that often. But that's different for the gas giant since its biggest satellites often cross the face of the Sun.

The largest one passes between the planet and the star once a week, while its other moons, Europa and Io, do it two times and four times, respectively. So these shadows cast on the planet are a common occurrence, but when Juno manages to capture them, they still don't fail to impress.
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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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