Juno has taken its closest image to date of the mysterious moon Europa. / NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI
The Juno probe has transmitted to Earth the most detailed image of the icy surface of Europa, one of Jupiter’s natural satellites. The photo shows double ridges and ridges, an unusually shaped large depression, and traces of geyser eruptions. Details were published in the website from NASA.
The Juno probe made its second closest flight to the surface of the beautiful Galilean satellite at the end of September this year. The spacecraft reached a minimum distance of about 352 kilometers.
In addition to receiving a series of images of Europa, the probe collected data on its surface and exosphere. Also, the flyby made it possible to shorten the orbital period of rotation of the probe around Jupiter. The images offer scientists their most detailed views of Europa’s surface since the Galileo probe flyby in 2000.
In early October, mission team members released Juno’s stunning image of Europa’s surface, using the SRU stellar sensor from a distance of 412 kilometers during the flyby.
The photo shows a portion of the icy crust of the satellite, 150 by 200 kilometers. Since it was taken at night, the area is illuminated by reflected sunlight from Jupiter on the night side of Europa. The resolution varies from 256 to 340 meters per pixel.
The image shows many grooves, as well as double ridges separated by a depression. Scientists consider these formations to be analogous to the double ridges on Earth, formed due to the freezing of underground deposits of liquid water.
The dark spots are thought to be traces of geyser eruptions. On the other hand, an unusual depression, measuring 67 by 37 kilometers, is still unexplained. The many white dots in the image are due to high-energy particles from Jupiter’s magnetosphere.
Juno’s main scientific goal was to focus solely on the gas giant Jupiter. However, when the mission was extended last year, scientists were able to schedule observing time for three of the four moons major on the planet. In June 2021, Juno made a close flyby of Ganymede, the natural satellite largest in the entire solar system.
“With this flyby of Europa, Juno has now seen incredible close-ups of two of Jupiter’s most interesting moons, and we can see that their ice caps look very different from each other,” said physicist Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).
Scientists are still analyzing the data collected during the recent Europa flyby, hoping to learn more about this intriguing world. Many believe that the icy satellite could host microbial life in the depths of its subterranean ocean.
NASA has a mission scheduled for 2024 called europe clipperwhich seeks find out if there really is life under the surface of the Galilean satellite. The spacecraft will be equipped with a suite of nine high-tech instruments to scrutinize every corner without having to land on its surface.
#Juno #probe #detailed #fascinating #image #Jupiters #moon #Europa