NASA’s Juno mission has recently released a photo of the gas giant Jupiter alongside two of its moons Io and Europa. The mission captured this view of Jupiter’s southern hemisphere during the spacecraft’s 39th close flyby of the planet on Jan. 12 2022.
Although the two moons are quite dark on the right-hand side of the image, they are clearly visible, and really help show the difference in scale between the huge planet and its moons. The moons are more visible in the close-up image below.
The moon Io is the solar system’s most volcanic body, while Europa’s icy surface hides a global ocean of liquid water beneath and is slightly smaller than the Earth’s moon. At the time the image was taken, the Juno spacecraft was about 38,000 miles from Jupiter’s cloud tops, at a latitude of about 52 degrees south.
Juno will have an opportunity to capture much more detailed observations of Europa – using several scientific instruments – in September 2022, when the spacecraft makes the closest fly-by of the enigmatic moon in decades. The mission will also make close approaches to Io in late 2023 and early 2024.
Scientists currently think that Jupiter has 79 moons. 53 of those have been named, although the remaining ones are still awaiting official names. The Juno mission is set to continue through to 2025 or until the spacecraft’s life comes to an end.
Citizen scientist Andrea Luck created the image using raw data from the JunoCam instrument after the raw images were posted by NASA.