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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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It was the largest gathering ever of NASA heads. Pixabay
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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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NASA Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary

NASA began operations on Oct. 1, 1958

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NASA Administrator James Bridenstine delivers remarks as he tours the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. VOA

NASA chiefs going back 30 years have come together to mark the space agency’s 60th anniversary.

Five former NASA administrators joined current boss Jim Bridenstine in Orlando on Monday. It was the largest gathering ever of NASA heads and included every administrator since 1989. The conference was arranged by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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NASA’s Opporutnity Rover. Flickr

The longest-serving administrator, Daniel Goldin of the 1990s, told Bridenstine there’s more to the company than human spaceflight and that the science and technology programs can help draw more public support.

Richard Truly of the post-Challenger shuttle era agreed, but noted humans need to explore.

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It was the largest gathering ever of NASA heads. Pixabay

Bridenstine, meanwhile, ran down NASA’s latest plans for sending astronauts back to the moon.

Also Read: Private Space Firm SpaceX Will Soon Send Its First Private Passenger To Moon

Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin was present for the panel discussion.

The Company  began operations on Oct. 1, 1958. (VOA)

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