Scientists have produced the first global geologic map of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon and the largest moon in our solar system. The U. S. Geological Survey has published the map, which illustrates the varied geology on Ganymede’s surface. Scientists say it’s the first complete global geologic map of an icy moon of an outer planet. The geologic map of Ganymede is available for download online here. USGS Astrogeology Science Center director Laszlo Kestay said:
After Mars, the interiors of icy satellites of Jupiter are considered the best candidates for habitable environments for life in our solar system. This geologic map will be the basis for many decisions by NASA and partners regarding future U.S. missions under consideration to explore these worlds.
The video above shows an animation of a rotating globe of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, with a geologic map superimposed over a global color mosaic. The 37-second animation begins as a global color mosaic image of the moon then quickly fades into the geologic map. The distortion in the shape of Ganymede is a map-maker’s artifact. Ganymede is round, like Earth.
Bottom line: The new map of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the first complete global geologic map of an icy moon of an outer planet.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.