Washington, March 21 – NASA’s Juno spacecraft beamed back stunning new images of Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa.
The Juno mission captured Jupiter’s southern hemisphere, with two of its many moons to the right of the frame, during the spacecraft’s 39th close flyby of the planet on January 12, 2022, NASA said.
At the time of taking the image, the Juno spacecraft was about 61,000 km from Jupiter’s cloud tops, at a latitude of about 52 degrees south.
The image was created by citizen scientist Andrea Luck using raw data from the JunoCam instrument, NASA said.
Io is the solar system’s most volcanic body, while Europa’s icy surface hides a global ocean of liquid water beneath.
The Juno spacecraft is expected to make its closest fly-by of Europa in decades, later this year, in September, NASA said.
During this fly-by, the probe will use several of its scientific instruments to study Europa in greater detail and capture even more stunning views of the mysterious moon.
The Juno mission will also make close approaches to Io in late 2023 and early 2024, according to the NASA statement. The mission is currently expected to end in September 2025.
Juno spacecraft, which entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016, made the last closest flyby to Jupiter’s largest Moon Ganymede on June 7. The flyby was the closest-known since NASA’s Galileo spacecraft made its penultimate close approach back on May 20, 2000.
Besides Juno, the future missions to the Jovian system include NASA’s Europa Clipper slated for a launch in October 2024 and expected to arrive in April 2030 and European Space Agency’s JUpiter ICy moons Explorer [JUICE] mission.
JUICE is planned for launch in 2022 and arrival at Jupiter in 2029.