Jupiter probe Juno has shut encounter with fiery Io | Digital Noch

In a detailed encounter of the Jovian type, NASA’s Juno deep area probe has made its closest flyby but of Jupiter’s risky moon Io. Throughout its 51st orbit of the large planet, the solar-powered robotic spacecraft got here inside 22,600 miles (35,500 km) of Io’s volcanic floor.

First launched from what’s now Cape Canaveral Area Pressure Station in Florida atop an Atlas V rocket on August 5, 2011 on the beginning of a seven-year mission, Juno is now properly into its twelfth yr. On July 5, 2016, it went into orbit round Jupiter and has, up to now, traveled over 510 million miles (820 million km).

Regardless of this, Juno has solely accomplished 50 orbits of Jupiter. It’s because its trajectory takes it distant from the planet in very lengthy arcs that take weeks at a time. This offers the spacecraft the flexibility to look at Jupiter and its moons from totally different vantage factors and minimizes the injury to the craft’s methods from passing by means of Jupiter’s lethal radiation belts.

Composite visible and infrared images showing volcanic activity on Io
Composite seen and infrared pictures displaying volcanic exercise on Io

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

In the course of the newest flyby, NASA scientists had been eager to gather new information – each to assist plan future missions and to study extra about probably the most volcanically energetic physique within the photo voltaic system. Despite the fact that it is smaller than the Earth’s Moon, Io has a molten inside and sulfur-spewing volcanoes that erupt with scary regularity. It’s because it orbits near Jupiter and the tidal forces of the large planet preserve pulling at Io, pumping vitality into its geology.

In the course of the encounter on Could 15, 2023, Juno not solely collected photos with its JunoCam, but additionally took readings with its Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM), Stellar Reference Unit (SRU), and Microwave Radiometer (MWR) to look at the moon’s volcanoes and magnetosphere.

“Io is probably the most volcanic celestial physique that we all know of in our photo voltaic system,” stated Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Analysis Institute in San Antonio. “By observing it over time on a number of passes, we are able to watch how the volcanoes fluctuate – how usually they erupt, how vivid and sizzling they’re, whether or not they’re linked to a gaggle or solo, and if the form of the lava circulate modifications.

“We’re coming into into one other wonderful a part of Juno’s mission as we get nearer and nearer to Io with successive orbits. This 51st orbit will present our closest look but at this tortured moon. Our upcoming flybys in July and October will convey us even nearer, main as much as our twin flyby encounters with Io in December of this yr and February of subsequent yr, after we fly inside 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) of its floor. All of those flybys are offering spectacular views of the volcanic exercise of this wonderful moon. The info must be wonderful.”

Supply: NASA

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