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Ganymede

The Largest Moon

Ganymede is a moon of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System. Completing an orbit in roughly seven days, it is the seventh moon and third Galilean moon from Jupiter. Ganymede participates in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with the moons Europa and Io, respectively. It is larger in diameter than the planet Mercury but has only about half its mass. It has the highest mass of all planetary satellites with 2.01 times the mass of the Earth's moon.

Ganymede is composed primarily of silicate rock and water ice. It is a fully differentiated body with an iron-rich, liquid core. A saltwater ocean is believed to exist nearly 200 km below Ganymede's surface, sandwiched between layers of ice. Its surface comprises two main types of terrain. Dark regions, saturated with impact craters and dated to four billion years ago, cover about a third of the satellite. Lighter regions, crosscut by extensive grooves and ridges and only slightly less ancient, cover the remainder. The cause of the light terrain's disrupted geology is not fully known, but was likely the result of tectonic activity brought about by tidal heating.

Ganymede is the only satellite in the Solar System known to possess a magnetosphere, likely created through convection within the liquid iron core. The meager magnetosphere is buried within Jupiter's much larger magnetic field and connected to it through open field lines. The satellite has a thin oxygen atmosphere that includes O, O2, and possibly O3 (ozone). Atomic hydrogen is a minor atmospheric constituent. Whether the satellite has an ionosphere to correspond to its atmosphere is unresolved

Ganymede's discovery is credited to Galileo Galilei, who observed it in 1610. The satellite's name was soon suggested by astronomer Simon Marius, for the mythological Ganymede, cupbearer of the Greek gods and Zeus's beloved. Beginning with Pioneer 10, spacecraft have been able to examine Ganymede closely. The Voyager probes refined measurements of its size, while the Galileo craft discovered its underground ocean and magnetic field. A new mission to Jupiter's icy moons, the Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) is proposed for a launch in 2020.

Ganymede receives about 8 rem of radiation per day.

 

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