Geology professor Geoffrey Collins led a team of researchers, including Wheaton students, in producing the first global geologic map of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon and the largest satellite in our solar system.
The map, published by the U.S. Geological Survey, is the first complete global map of an outer-planet moon. It will provide critical data to scientists planning future studies and exploration of our solar system, including follow-up missions to Ganymede and other satellites of Jupiter.
The work is particularly significant because the moon offers a good model for understanding icy worlds that appear to be common in our solar system and beyond.
“On icy worlds such as Ganymede, liquid water probably exists below the surface and may be in contact with nutrients from rocky materials,” said Collins, who led the mapping team. “That’s one of the reasons we’re so interested in understanding how icy worlds work, so we can understand the possibility of life beneath the surface and how we should go about looking for it.”