Scientists successfully gained one of the best views of “the most volcanically active body in the solar system.”
NASA’s Juno spacecraft on December 30 completed its close flyby of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io, the closest by a spacecraft in decades.
The space agency announced earlier this year that Juno would pass over the Jovian moon surveying its surface with three onboard cameras. This flyby is one of two close encounters with the moon this year, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
“With our pair of close flybys in December and February, Juno will investigate the source of Io’s massive volcanic activity, whether a magma ocean exists underneath its crust, and the importance of tidal forces from Jupiter, which are relentlessly squeezing this tortured moon,” said Scott J. Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator, according to NASA.
On January 2, NASA announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Juno had completed the flyby.
“The JunoCam instrument aboard our #JunoMission acquired six images of Jupiter’s moon Io during its close encounter today. This black-and-white view was taken at an altitude of about 1,500 miles (2,500 kilometers).”
The JunoCam captured six images of Io including a black and white and a color image of the volcanic moon showcasing its northern pole and mountainous surface cast in sunlight reflected off Jupiter coined “Jupitershine.”
Another photo taken by the craft shows the lava-covered surface as well as a blue plume of material jetting from the surface. More images are available on NASA’s website.
Juno will perform another close flyby at a similar distance on February 3. The craft is expected to continue surveying the Jovian system through September of next year.