Jupiter could easily be considered as the guardian of the Solar System, as it gets rid of plenty of asteroids and comets that come too near. Jupiter is also known for other unique characteristics. Besides being the biggest planet from our Solar System, Jupiter is a gas giant that features at least 79 moons. There could theoretically be even more natural satellites of Jupiter, but this is the amount that scientists discovered until now.
At least one of those moons of Jupiter is pretty unique as well. Known as Ganymede, it’s the biggest moon that revolves within our Solar System. Ganymede has a diameter of 5,268 km, which makes it 26% larger than Mercury. However, it is only 45% as massive as the planet.
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Due to NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (ITF) mounted at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the gas giant Jupiter has been revealed in a beautiful event: Ganymede has been casting a shadow over Jupiter’s surface, and you are free to enjoy the footage below:
Having a metallic core, Ganymede has the lowest moment of inertia factor from all solid bodies in the Solar System. It’s also the only moon that possesses a magnetic field. Ganymede orbits its host Jupiter in about seven days, and it’s also worth mentioning that the moon is in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with other moons like Europa and Io, respectively.
As for Ganymede’s composition, the cosmic object has around equal amounts of silicate rock and water ice. The moon is a fully differentiated body that possesses iron-rich, liquid core, and it also features an internal ocean that may contain more water than the whole Earth. A trip to Ganymede would be useful for the overall picture of searching for life elsewhere in the Solar System. However, Mars remains our best bet for that matter.