Ganymede Moon Facts
jupiter moon ganymede
Natural color view of Ganymede.
Ganymede Facts
  • Ganymede is the 7th moon in distance from Jupiter.
  • It is the largest moon in the solar system.
  • It has a diameter of 3,270 miles (5,262 km) which is larger than
  • Ganymede would certainly be classed as a planet if it orbited the sun instead of Jupiter.
  • It orbits Jupiter at a distance of 665,116 miles (1,070,400 km) and takes 7 days 3 hours to make one orbit of the planet.
  • It is the only moon in the solar system known to have its own magnetic field.
  • Ganymede is under the same tidal influences as Io and Europa although at a much weaker level.
  • It is believed that Ganymede has a salt water ocean 124 miles (200 km) below its surface.
  • Ganymede has a low density meaning that even though it is bigger than Mercury it only has half its mass.
  • The moon was discovered in January 1610 by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei.

surface of ganymede
Voyager 1 close up image of Ganymede's surface.
Ganymede's Surface
The surface of Ganymede has two types of terrain. Forty percent is made up of darker areas which are highly cratered. The remaining 60% has lighter areas consisting of grooved terrain. Some of these grooves are over 700 meters (2,000 feet) in height which run for thousands of miles across its surface.
Ganymede's Atmosphere
Much like Europa's atmosphere Ganymede has an extremely thin layer of oxygen covering it. Its also possible that aurorae occur at its poles.
Ganymede's Temperature
Daytime temperatures on the surface average around
-113C to -183C (-171F to -297F). At night temperatures plunge even further to around -193C (-315F).

Life on Ganymede
Chances of life existing in Ganymede are much less than on Europa due to its ocean being much further from the surface.
Origin of Name
Ganymede is named after a handsome mortal prince from Greek mythology who was abducted by Zeus to become cup-bearer to the gods.

Ganymede Flyover

Missions to Ganymede

JUICE (JUpiter ICy moon Explorer)
juice probe 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. The probe will enter into orbit around Ganymede in the latter part of the mission, studying its icy surface and subsurface ocean. It will also observe how Ganymede's magnetic field interracts with Jupiter's magnetosphere.
New Horizons
new horizons Launch: January 2006
Arrival: January 2007
Agency: NASA
Summary: As well as sending back images New Horizons made topography and composition maps of Ganymede.
galileo Launch: October 1989
Arrival: December 1995
Agency: NASA
Summary: Galileo made several flybys of Ganymede sending back a whole host of new data. As well as discovering a magnetic field, an ocean underneath its surface was also detected. Galileo also sent back some stunning close up images of the moon.
Voyager 1 and 2
Voyager 2 Launch: August-September 1977
Arrival: April-August 1979
Agency: NASA
Summary: Voyager 1 and 2 made successful flybys of Ganymede taking far more detailed images than the previous Pioneer missions. The grooved terrain could be seen and it was also revealed that Ganymede was in fact larger than first thought, replacing Saturn's moon Titan as the largest satellite in the solar system.
Pioneer 10 and 11
Ganymede from Pioneer 10 Launch: March 1972 - April 1973
Arrival: December 1973 - December 1974
Agency: NASA
Summary: Pioneer 10 and 11 made successful flybys of Ganymede but only sent back limited data and blurry images such as the one on the left.

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