A NASA Spacecraft Has Captured Incredible Images Of A Volcano-Covered Moon

From 50,000 miles away, NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured an infrared image of Jupiter’s moon Io. The shapes of lava flows and lava lakes can be seen as bright red spots in the image, which was taken on July 5 and released on Wednesday. Io is home to hundreds of volcanoes, NASA has found. Surprisingly, scientists found more volcanic spots in the polar region than in the planet’s equatorial region, Bolton said.

Since 2016, the Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter. Juno flew by Jupiter’s moon Ganymede in 2021 and Europa earlier this year after studying the gas giant. The spacecraft will return to Io, which NASA describes as “the most volcanic place in the solar system,” on December 15. Juno’s flyby is the first of nine planned over the next year and a half.

“You can see volcanic hotspots. We’ve been able to monitor over the course of the primary mission — over 30 orbits — how this changes and evolves,” Scott Bolton, principal investigator for NASA’s Juno spacecraft, said in a press event at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting on Wednesday.

This image of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa was captured by JunoCam as well, NASA’s Juno spacecraft’s public engagement camera, during the mission’s close flyby on September 29, 2022. The image is a composite of JunoCam’s second, third, and fourth images taken during the flyby, as seen from the fourth image’s perspective. The direction of north is to the left.

The images have a resolution of just over 0.5 to 2.5 miles per pixel (1 to 4 kilometers per pixel). As with our Moon and Earth, one side of Europa always faces Jupiter, and that is the side of Europa visible here. Europa’s surface is crisscrossed by fractures, ridges, and bands, which have erased terrain older than about 90 million years.

JunoCam’s raw images are available for the public to peruse and process into image products at https://missionjuno.swri.edu/junocam/processing.

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