What NASA Discovered on Ganymede | Our Solar System’s Moons
What is Ganymede ?
Jupiter’s moon Ganymede (“GAN uh meed”) is the largest moon in our solar system and the only moon with its own magnetic field. The magnetic field causes auroras, which are ribbons of glowing, electrified gas, in regions circling the moon’s north and south poles. When Jupiter’s magnetic field changes, the aurorae on Ganymede also change, “rocking” back and forth.
Ganymede also has large, bright regions of ridges and grooves that slice across older, darker terrains. These grooved regions are a clue that the moon experienced dramatic upheavals in the distant ast.
In 2015, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found the best evidence to date for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede. The subterranean ocean is thought to have more water than all the water on Earth’s surface.
Ganymede has three main layers. A sphere of metallic iron at the center (the core, which generates a magnetic field), a spherical shell of rock (mantle) surrounding the core, and a spherical shell of mostly ice surrounding the rock shell and the core. The ice shell on the outside is very thick, and about 500 miles (800 kilometers) thick. The surface is the very top of the ice shell. Though it is mostly ice, the ice shell might contain some rock mixed in. Scientists believe there must be a fair amount of rock in the ice near the surface. Ganymede’s magnetic field is embedded inside Jupiter’s massive magnetosphere.
Almost everything you could want to know about Jupiter’s biggest moon, Ganymede
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