NASA’s Juno spacecraft has treated us with some stunning photos of Jupiter and its moons, Ganymede and Europa. But now, the mission to Jupiter has turned its cameras on sister moon Io. And in this family of moons, this is the sister that’s got a temper!
Io is the most volcanic place in the solar system, with eruptions raging all over its surface. Juno captured them in a photo, revealing the red-hot beauty and temper of Jupiter’s moon.
Juno is now in its second year of an extended mission to investigate the interior of Jupiter, and it also includes a closer inspection of the giant planet’s moons. NASA writes that Io will remain an object of the Juno team’s attention for the next year and a half. The first flyby took place on 15 December, ant it was the first out of nine flybys, two of which will be from just 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) away from the moon’s surface. “Juno scientists will use those flybys to perform the first high-resolution monitoring campaign on the magma-encrusted moon, studying Io’s volcanoes and how volcanic eruptions interact with Jupiter’s powerful magnetosphere and aurora,” NASA adds.
“The team is really excited to have Juno’s extended mission include the study of Jupiter’s moons. With each close flyby, we have been able to obtain a wealth of new information,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Juno sensors are designed to study Jupiter, but we’ve been thrilled at how well they can perform double duty by observing Jupiter’s moons.”
[via CNET; image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM]