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SPACE: Ganymede Gets Its Close-Up

Ganymede - Juno - NASA

Swooping low over Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, NASA’s Juno probe has snapped the first close-up photographs of the frozen giant in more than two decades — and they’re breathtaking.

Juno zoomed as close as 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from the icy surface of the solar system’s largest moon Monday (June 7), giving the spacecraft just a 25-minute window to snap photos — long enough for five exposures —— before it zipped away on its 33rd orbit of Jupiter.

Two photos from the flyby released by NASA Tuesday (June 8) — one of Ganymede’s light, sun-facing side and the other of its dark side — show an icy, inhospitable surface pockmarked with craters from asteroid impacts, as well as long, narrow striations possibly caused by tectonic fault lines.

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