On October 18, 1989, NASA launched the Galileo Orbiter Spaceship. En route to study Jupiter and its many moons, the Orbiter made many notable discoveries during its 2.4 billion mile space journey before finally reaching the Jovian System on December 7, 1995. Venus clouds in infrared in 1990 to photograph the northern regions of Earth’s closest cosmic companion, the moon, Galileo left an impressive legacy.
Galileo’s images continue to capture the public’s attention, including a stunning false-color mosaic image shared with NASA’s Instagram page which collected nearly 2.5 million likes in less than 24 hours this week, reports Mashable India’s press staff. The photo was originally published in 1996.
NASA constructed several false-color mosaic images from a series of 53 photos Galileo took while walking past the moon on December 7, 1992. The different colors in the images are striking and help researchers understand the composition of the surface of the moon and the volcanic past, explains NASA in a declaration.
Volcanism on the moon has happened 3-4 billion years ago, but the moon’s volcanic activity was very different from what we see on Earth. On the Moon, volcanism is controlled by surface elevation and crustal thickness. Most of the volcanic activity has occurred inside impact craters on the moon’s surface.
Galileo’s imaging system took the vibrant images using three spectral filters. The false-color mosaic highlights the moon’s various geological features, such as meteoric impacts and what remains of its volcanic past. Around the orange oval shape Cirsium mare impact basin towards the bottom of the image, the bright pink to reddish areas represent the lunar highlands, according to NASA Instagram Publish. The highlands on the moon consist of anorthosite, a calcium-rich white rock that forms when molten lunar material cools more slowly.
Shades of blue to orange in the images indicate areas where basalt lava has flowed. For example, a dark blue spot to the left of Mare Cirsium represents a feature called Tranquillatis mare. The area, also known as the Sea of Tranquility, is where Apollo 11 landed during lunar missions and where the first human footprints on the moon reside. Once considered a remnant of an ocean on the Moon, the Mare Tranquillatis is a smooth plain made up of basaltic lavas that formed 3.9 billion years ago after a massive impact. The crack in the crater due to the impact allowed the basalts to spill over into the basin, creating the dark spots visible from Earth.
The dark blue area is richer in titanium than the green and orange areas above. Minerals or thin soils seen in light blue to light green colors are the result of recent asteroid or meteorite impacts, according to NASA’s Instagram post. In the image, the younger craters have blue rays extending from them.
The Galileo mission ended on September 23, 2003, when it plunged into Jupiter’s atmosphere to avoid impacting the Jovian moon Europe. Currently the Juno spaceship launched in 2011 is orbiting the gas giant to help researchers understand the origins of the solar system, reports Crushable india.