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Ridges, grooves, and craters on Ganymede; gas giant; jovian planet - Space Art Illustration
 

Ridges, grooves, and craters on Ganymede

Jupiter's largest satellite Ganymede has a varying surface, some of which is characterized by rumpled bundles of ridges and grooves that run for hundreds of miles over a frozen surface of water-ice. They probably formed long ago when tectonic forces pulled apart Ganymede's upper crust; similar sets of faults occur in rift zones on Earth, as in eastern Africa. Subsequent meteoritic impacts have peppered--and broken in places--the continuity of the running formations.

In this image an impact crater about 10 miles in diameter dominates a scene otherwise defined by a dozen long ridges. In the middle of the crater is a central peak, formed when the energy of the impact liquefied the crust long enough for it to rebound upward and solidify once again.

Immediately above the horizon, Jupiter is still a majestic spectacle, even at a distance of nearly three times that between the Earth and its moon. Much closer on the upper right is Ganymede's sister satellite Europa. At a distance of 307 thousand miles from this vantage point, Europe is only a quarter again as far as the Earth is from its moon. To the lower left of Jupiter at nearly a million miles is Jupiter's volcanic satellite Io.

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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