Impact craters dominate the surface down to the smallest features visible on the dark terrain of the Nicholson Regio region of Jupiter's moon Ganymede in this image taken by NASA's Galileo spacecraft. It is the highest resolution view ever obtained of Ganymede's dark terrain.
Both the regional-scale image at the bottom and high-resolution image at the top were taken by Galileo during its May 20, 2000, flyby of Ganymede. The latter are the highest resolution images ever obtained of Ganymede's dark terrain, which makes up about one third of Ganymede's surface.
Impact cratering is clearly the dominant mechanism of surface modification in this relatively ancient terrain, which is analogous to the cratered highlands of Earth's Moon. Small-scale craters seem to mimic larger-scale craters, as is apparent in the similarities between the high and medium resolution scenes. The bright spots are probably fresh ice-rich ejecta excavated by the most recent impact events.
North is to the top of the images and the Sun illuminates the surface from the west. The medium-resolution image, centered at ?15 degrees latitude and 337 degrees longitude, covers an area approximately 237 by 130 kilometers (147 by 81 miles) at a resolution of 125 meters (410 feet) per picture element. The high-resolution image is at 28 meters (92 feet) per picture element.
This image and other images and data received from Galileo are posted on the Galileo mission home page at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/galileo. Background information and educational context for the images can be found at http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/galileo/gallery/index.cfm.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, in Pasadena, manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.
The images were produced by Arizona State University, Tempe, and Brown University, Providence, R.I. Their websites are at http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/ and http://www.planetary.brown.edu/.