NASA’s Juno spacecraft just came super close to the solar system’s most volcanic world, and its astonishing first image could be the last of Jupiter after 56 orbits.
On December 30th, a bus-sized spacecraft that has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016 came very close to Jupiter’s giant moon Io. It reached a distance of just 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) from the moon’s surface. However, the spacecraft’s cameras have been damaged by radiation and may not be usable for much longer.
The first image returned from here, the closest pass since NASA’s Galileo spacecraft photographed the volcanic moon in October 2001, was published by NASA on social media on December 31 . “During a close encounter today,” he tweeted, adding, “This black and white view was taken at an altitude of approximately 1,500 miles (2,500 kilometers).”
If you look closely, you can see Io’s dark side. It is illuminated by “Jupiter Shine”, sunlight that reflects from Jupiter to Io.
More images coming
More images of Io and Jupiter itself promised to be available soon. Mission image website. The space agency typically uploads a tranche of data from Juno over the deep space network each time it approaches Jupiter.
This black-and-white view, taken through JunoCam’s red filter, shows Io’s northern height. The image is four times more detailed than Juno’s best image in 22 years, taken in October.
Scientists believe that the turbulent 42-day orbit of Jupiter’s moons generates enormous amounts of heat that forms oceans of magma beneath the rocky surface. Io is the most volcanic world in the solar system, with eruptions orders of magnitude larger than similar worlds on Earth.
Since 2016, Juno has been exploring Jupiter and its four largest moons. It flew very close to three of these moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Io. The fourth satellite, Callisto, is scheduled to be visited multiple times by another spacecraft called JUICE between July 2031 and December 2034. JUICE will also visit Europa and Ganymede and remain in orbit around Ganymede.
Another spacecraft, called Europa Clipper, will focus on exploring Europa and will patrol Jupiter’s moons starting in 2030. However, there are no plans to visit Io, so what Juneau sends us later this week will be important.
Juno is scheduled to approach Io again in February, so expect great images from NASA in the coming months. At least, that’s the plan.
This spectacular image includes a strong hint from NASA that JunoCam may be nearing the end of its lifespan. Originally designed to last only a few orbits, it has recently suffered from overheating.
“After Juno’s last close approach to Jupiter in November, the Juno cam’s performance deteriorated significantly due to radiation damage.” NASA wrote on Facebook. “Using built-in heaters, the camera was warmed to about 65 degrees Celsius (150 degrees Fahrenheit) over his December weeks. This is a process called ‘annealing,’ and this treatment ensures that at least this The camera function has been restored. Passed. “
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.