Image taken by Galileo in 1996 showing Callisto's highly cratered surface, the lighter areas are ice.
Callisto is the second largest moon orbiting Jupiter and the third largest moon in the solar system.
It has a diameter of 2,985 miles (4,800 km), which is only 1% smaller than the planet Mercury.
Callisto is the 8th moon in distance from Jupiter and takes 17 days to make one complete orbit of the planet.
It orbits Jupiter at an average distance of 1,168,000 miles (1,880,000 km).
Callisto orbits beyond Jupiter's main radiation belt.
Due to its orbit being further away from Jupiter it is not under the same tidal influences as Io, Europa or Ganymede.
It has the lowest density of any of the "Galilean Moons".
It could have a similar subsurface ocean to those found on Europa and Ganymede.
Callisto is the most cratered object in the solar system and has the oldest landscape.
The moon was discovered in January 1610 by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei.
Close up image of Callisto's surface taken by the NASA spacecraft Galileo.
Callisto may be rather bland in appearance compared to the other "Galilean Moons" but still has a mysterious looking landscape. Its icy surface is around 4 billion years old with no significant geological changes in that time.
It is heavily cratered with rather strange icy peaks.
Callisto has an extremely thin atmosphere although unlike Europa and Ganymede it is composed primarily of carbon dioxide. It is now known that all four of the Galilean Moons have some form of atmosphere.
The highest daytime temperature on Callisto is around -108C (-162 F). At night temperatures can reach an even more chilly -193C (-315 F).
Life on Callisto
Microbial life may exist in the ocean underneath Callisto's surface although the conditions may be less
favorable than on Europa or Ganymede.
Origin of Name
Callisto is named after a nymph from Greek mythology who became a lover of Zeus.
Missions to Callisto
JUICE (JUpiter ICy moon Explorer)
Launch: 2022 Arrival: 2030 Agency: ESA (European Space Agency) Summary: The JUICE probe will study the Jovian system, focusing on the icy moons of Europa, Callisto and Ganymede, investigating any potential habitable environments.
Launch: January 2006 Arrival: January 2007 Agency: NASA Summary: Made a successful flyby of Callisto on its way to Pluto sending back new images of the moon.
Launch: October 1989 Arrival: December 1995 Agency: NASA Summary: Galileo made several flybys of Callisto sending back close up images of the moon. They revealed the strange icy peaks that populate Callisto's surface.
Voyager 1 and 2
Launch: August-September 1977 Arrival: April-August 1979 Agency: NASA Summary: Voyager 1 and 2 made successful flybys of Callisto providing an array of new data. It gave precise measurements of its temperature, shape and mass as well sending back
high resolution images of the moon.
Pioneer 10 and 11
Launch: March 1972 - April 1973 Arrival: December 1973 - December 1974 Agency: NASA Summary: Pioneer 10 and 11 made successful flybys of Callisto but provided little new information.