NASA’s Jupiter-gazing spacecraft has obtained a rare close-up of an ice world.
The jump 219 miles (352 kilometers) above Europe’s surface, and the two-hour flyby was among the three closest glimpses of the icy world ever. The last similar view we received was on January 3, 2000 with Galileo, officials with NASAThe Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California said in a statement.
“Rough terrain features are easily visible, including tall shadow casting blocks, while bright and dark edges and bottoms curve across the surface. An oblong crater near the end point may be a deteriorating impact crater,” according to JPL officials. Books on Juno’s Flying Pictures (Opens in a new tab) Thursday (September 29).
While geological data from the flight is only just beginning to emerge, officials have described Juno’s rare view as key to creating observations of NASA’s oncoming. Europa clipper The mission that will be launched in just two years to study the icy moon.
The JPL reported the mission, which is scheduled to reach Jupiter’s system in 2030.
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As the sixth largest moon in the world Solar SystemEurope is similar in size to a landBut it has a much different composition and evolutionary history. Europa has a massive ice crust covering an ocean that researchers believe may be able to support Earth-like life.
During its flyby, Juno collected some of the highest-resolution images ever of the moon at 0.6 miles, or one kilometer, per pixel, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, along with information about the moon’s environment, atmosphere, surface and internal structure.
“The science team will be looking…to see if Europa’s surface features have changed over the past two decades,” said Candy Hansen, Juno co-investigator who leads planning for JunoCam (which acquired the images) at the Planetary Science Institute. in Tucson, Arizona.
Data from Juno’s microwave radiometer may be especially important for future missions like Clipper, as it may help identify some habitable “pockets” of liquid water under the massive ice sheet.
Scientists used the flyby feature to slightly alter Juno’s path, as it is now set to make one orbit of Jupiter in 38 Earth days (compared to 43 days earlier). Io It is expected in 2023 and 2024, if the mission can continue to survive the intense radioactive radiation belts near Jupiter.
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