NASA has taken to its blog to showcase a new image of one of the largest Jupiter moons called Io. The Juno spacecraft has imaged the moon in infrared.
NASA's Juno mission is a space exploration project that aims to study the planet Jupiter and its atmosphere in an attempt to learn more about its evolution. The spacecraft was launched in August 2011 and entered Jupiter's orbit in July 2016. Since then, it has been collecting data and sending it back to Earth for analysis, and recently the Juno spacecraft captured an infrared image of the innermost and third-largest of the four Galilean Moons, Io.
So far, the Juno mission has already yielded impressive results as it has made the discovery of water in Jupiter's atmosphere and evidence of auroras on the planet. The Juno mission is expected to continue until July 2021, when the spacecraft will be deliberately de-orbited and will burn up in Jupiter's atmosphere, but before that happens, researchers hope to learn more about our solar system's largest planet. NASA writes in its blog post that Io is the most volcanic place in the solar system, with the moon harboring hundreds of volcanoes.
The image was captured on July 5, 2022, when the Juno spacecraft's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) imager captured the volcano-covered surface in infrared as the spacecraft flew by at a distance of approximately 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers). In the image, brighter spots indicate higher temperature areas. This flyby provided valuable data on the moon's surface and volcanic activity. As Juno continues to orbit the moon, it will learn more about its magnetism and how it interacts with Jupiter's magnetosphere.
For those that don't know, the spacecraft was sent to primarily study the origin and evolution of Jupiter, but it's extending its mission to study Jupiter's surrounding moons. Now the spacecraft is being set on the planet's four largest moons - Callisto, Ganymede, Europa, and Io. These bonus observations provide valuable additional data on the moons and their characteristics.
In other NASA news, the Orion spacecraft has splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and has been fished out of the ocean. Following the success of the Artemis 1 mission, NASA is now focusing on preparations for Artemis 2. This mission will be similar to Artemis 1, but it will be crewed and will carry US astronauts to the moon. To learn more about this story, check out the link below.