According to new research from Japan’s Kobe University and the National Institute of Technology, Oshima College, Jupiter’s moon is the largest impact crater in the Ganymede solar system.
The team re-examined images from previous probe missions that were passed by Jupiter and its moons and used computer modeling to learn more about this unusual body. It is the largest moon of Jupiter and one of the ten largest bodies of our solar system, and also has its own magnetic field which is different from Jupiter’s magnetic field. Beneath a rocky surface, the moon can hide a salty ocean that may also host life.
In their research, the team identified troughs that lie in thickened rings across the surface of the ganymede. They believe that these are evidence of a heavily impacted pit, the result of a collision between the Moon and the asteroid with a radius of about 93 miles. If this is correct, with a radius of 4,850 miles, it would be the largest impact crater in our solar system, overtaking a 1,180-mile radius crater on one of Jupiter’s moons. It also means that the impact crater covers a significant amount of the lunar surface, as it is only 10,300 miles in circumference.
These findings suggest that Jupiter may have several surprises in store for an upcoming mission to the moons, the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Mons Explorer mission which is set to launch in 2022.
Naoyuki Hirata, as the lead researcher, said in a statement, “The European Space Agency’s JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission to launch in 2022 and arrive in 2029 will examine Jupiter and its moons, including Ganymede, such as GAnymedeede Will be with equipment. Laser Altimeter (GALA), which NAOJ is helping develop and imaging spectrographs. GALA is being developed primarily by the German Aerospace Center in collaboration with institutions in Switzerland, Spain and Japan, including JAXA, Chiba Institute of Technology, Osaka University and NAOJ.
“We hope that JUICE will confirm the results of this study and further enhance our understanding of the formation and evolution of Jupiter’s moons.”