Map created of Ganymede, the solar system's largest moon

Feb. 12, 2014 at 8:02 PM   |   0 comments

PROVIDENCE, R.I., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists report they've completed the first global geological map of Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon and the largest in the solar system.

The researchers said they hope the new map might aid in future exploration of Ganymede, which -- with its varied terrain and possible underground ocean -- is considered a prime target in the search for habitable environments in the solar system.

The map, published Wednesday by the U.S. Geological Survey, was the result of years of work by a research team of professors and graduate students at Brown University.

"It is very rewarding to see the results of all of our efforts here at Brown come together into this integrated global compilation that will now be used to plan the next phase of scientific exploration of the Galilean satellites," said Brown geological sciences Professor Jim Head, one of the map's co-authors.

The researchers combined images from the Voyager and Galileo spacecraft to put the map together, a Brown release said.

Voyager was the first mission to fly through the Jupiter satellite system and passed by Ganymede in 1979. The Galileo spacecraft was placed in orbit around Jupiter in 1995, and began to return high-resolution images of the surface that helped improve understanding about features previously seen only in Voyager's low-resolution images.

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