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NASA Probe Unveils Stormy Environment of Jupiter’s Moon

Jupiter moon Ganymede's environment unique: NASA probe

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After lettuce, astronauts could grow beans in space in 2021. Pixabay

The magnetic field around Jupiter’s moon Ganymede makes it unlike any other in the solar system, shows newly analysed data from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft’s first flyby of the moon two decades ago.

NASA’s Galileo spacecraft spent eight years orbiting Jupiter. During that time, the hearty spacecraft — slightly larger than a full-grown giraffe — sent back spates of discoveries on the gas giant’s moons, including the observation of a magnetic environment around Ganymede that was distinct from Jupiter’s own magnetic field.

The mission ended in 2003, but newly resurrected data from Galileo’s first flyby of Ganymede, detailed in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, offered new insights about the moon’s environment.

“We are now coming back over 20 years later to take a new look at some of the data that was never published and finish the story,” said study lead author Glyn Collinson from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Jupiter's dark side.
Jupiter. Pixabay

“We found there’s a whole piece no one knew about,” Collinson said.

In 1996, shortly after arriving at Jupiter, Galileo made a surprising discovery: Ganymede had its own magnetic field.

While most planets in our solar system, including Earth, have magnetic environments — known as magnetospheres — no one expected a moon to have one.

Between 1996 and 2000, Galileo made six targeted flybys of Ganymede, with multiple instruments collecting data on the moon’s magnetosphere.

The new results reveal interesting details about the magnetosphere’s unique structure.

Also Read: NASA Ready To Study Heart Of Mars

The results showed a stormy scene. Particles blasted off the moon’s icy surface as a result of incoming plasma rain, and strong flows of plasma pushed between Jupiter and Ganymede due to an explosive magnetic event occurring between the two bodies’ magnetic environments.

Scientists think these observations could be key to unlocking the secrets of the moon, such as why Ganymede’s auroras are so bright.

“There are these particles flying out from the polar regions, and they can tell us something about Ganymede’s atmosphere, which is very thin,” said Bill Paterson, a co-author of the study at NASA Goddard who served on the Galileo Plasma Science (PLS) team during the mission.

“It can also tell us about how Ganymede’s auroras form,” Paterson added.  IANS

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Partial Shutdown of US Delays Space Missions, But NASA Not Grounded

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said

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People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The partial shutdown of the US federal government has had a serious impact on the country’s space agency NASA and development work on most future space missions has been slowed or suspended.

However, NASA has not been totally grounded by the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, after last-minute negotiations in Congress failed to end a budget standoff.

Over 95 per cent of the space agency’s employees have been furloughed. As a result, various research projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope has been put on hold, the Space.com reported on Wednesday.

Hubble suffered a mechanical problem that only furloughed NASA employees could repair.

Many workers also gathered outside the Johnson Space Center in Houston to protest the shutdown and its deleterious effects on their lives and the nation’s space programmes.

The Telescope facilities that have so far remained open during the shutdown will soon run out of money and cease operations.

This includes the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), a federally funded organization that operates the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Green Bank Telescope and the Very Large Array (VLA), the report noted.

The partial shutdown become the longest on record after January 12, overtaking the previous record of the 21-day impasse in 1995-96 under then President Bill Clinton.

NASA, tissue
US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

President Donald Trump and the Congress have been at loggerheads over his demand to include in the budget $5.7 billion funding for building a border wall along the Mexico border. Democratic leaders have rejected his call.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), also called the “flying telescope” has also ceased operations since the shutdown.

The telescope, which is mounted to the fuselage of a Boeing 747 aircraft, has not flown since the shutdown began, the report said.

However, despite the shutdown some “excepted” employees remained at work, assisting astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other space missions, the report said.

Also Read- National Clean Air Programme Should Set Higher Targets

Last week, astronauts aboard the ISS conducted a range of scientific experiments and public-outreach work. They engaged in an orbital Q&A with school kids and answered a variety of questions, from the nature of the research performed aboard the ISS to the type of training astronauts receive to whether your ears pop in space.

On January 13, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule departed the orbiting lab for Earth, eventually splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The robotic Dragon brought down important scientific research and hardware for examination here on terra firma.

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said.  (IANS)