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Physics - Jupiter's Moons - Ganymede

Ganymede is the largest of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, with a diameter of 5262 km. Ganymede is also the largest moon in the entire Solar System.

Galileo indicated that Ganymede is a fully differentiated body, with an iron inner core (filling 22 per cent of its radius), a silicate outer core (filling 55 per cent of its radius) and an icy mantle, but that Callisto is only weakly differentiated.

Ganymede has a magnetic field with about 1 per cent the strength of the Earth, which could be generated in the core or in a salty ocean deep within the ice layer.

Jupiter's Moons - Ganymede

With an albedo of about 0.45, Ganymede’s surface is darker than Europa’s. Spectroscopic studies show that it is dominantly water-ice, with scattered patches of carbon dioxide ice, and that the darkening is caused by silicate minerals and tholins. The darkening is at least partly attributable to the much greater age of Ganymede’s surface, allowing more time for the action of solar radiation to produce tholins and for silicate grains to become concentrated in the regolith by the preferential loss of ice during impacts.

There are also faint traces of oxygen and ozone, trapped within the ice as suggested for Europa, and Galileo found an extremely tenuous atmosphere of hydrogen that is presumably the counterpart to the oxygen produced by the breakdown of water molecules.

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