January 28, 2023

The Juno spacecraft takes a glowing infrared image of Jupiter's moon Io

The Juno spacecraft takes a glowing infrared image of Jupiter’s moon Io

  • NASA’s Juno spacecraft Take an infrared image of Jupiter’s moon Io.
  • Io is the most volcanically active body in our solar system, and its surface is dotted with lava lakes.
  • Juno should fly by Jupiter’s moon again on December 15, the first of nine flybys.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has captured a rocket infrared image Jupiter’s moon Io from 50,000 miles away.

In the image, taken on July 5 and released on Wednesday, you can see the shapes of lava flows and lava lakes as bright red spots.

“You can see the volcanic hotspots. We’ve been able to observe the trajectory of the core mission — more than 30 orbits — how this changes and evolves,” Scott Boltonthe principal investigator on NASA’s Juno spacecraft, said at an American Geophysical Union press event Autumn meeting Wednesday.

Io is home to hundreds of volcanoes. NASA found. Surprisingly, Bolton said, scientists found more volcanic spots in the polar region than in the planet’s equatorial region.

The Juno space probe has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016. After studying the gas giant, Juno flew by Jupiter’s moon Ganymede in 2021 and by Europa earlier this year.

The Io spacecraft is scheduled to explore NASA He says it’s “the most volcanic place in the solar system,” back on December 15th. It is the first of nine flights that Juno has planned over the next year and a half.

Scientists hope to collect more data on the moon’s volcanism and magnetism – ie Play “tug-of-war” to form Jupiter’s aurora borealis – They fly by.

“As we watch the volcanoes change and become active and less active, they drive Jupiter’s giant monstrous magnetosphere,” Bolton said Wednesday.

Aurora borealis are colorful displays of light that are not unique to Earth. Jupiter has the brightest aurora borealis in the solar system, according to NASA.

On both Earth and Jupiter, auroras occur when charged particles, such as protons or electrons, interact with the magnetic field – known as the magnetosphere – that surrounds the planet. Jupiter’s magnetic field is about 20,000 times stronger from Earth.

The data and insights Juno collects could help inform future missions to study Jupiter’s moons, such as NASA’s Clipper missionwhich will investigate whether Europa can support life.