Thursday, December 22, 2022

The infernal IO moon picked up by the Juno probe!

Recently, the first images obtained by the Juno probe were released last July during the close-up of Io, one of Jupiter's four Galilean moons. This was the first of a series of nine flyovers that will see in the next year and a half the Juno spacecraft getting closer and closer to Io, up to a distance of just 1500 km.

Juno’s instruments were designed exclusively for the study of the atmosphere of Jupiter, but the researchers later realized that they could also be used to study the four main moons of the gas giant. Juno has in fact studied Ganymede and Europe in the last two years and has now begun the study of Io. This is a very interesting object, with over 400 active volcanoes on the surface, making it the most geologically active body in the entire Solar System.

Juno’s infrared cameras will allow for the first time to reconstruct a very high resolution map of the lava distribution above the surface of this body. It will be possible to study all active volcanoes and see how the material emitted during volcanic eruptions interacts with the magnetosphere of Jupiter.

This first image in the infrared wavelengths gives us a glimpse of what the Juno probe is capable of: here we see in fact all the active volcanoes on the surface of the moon, visible as yellowish points compared to the surrounding red.

This image was obtained when the probe was 80,000 km away from the satellite. So imagine how it will be able to distinguish all geological structures when it passes only 1500 km above the surface.

Credit: NASA, JPL, ASI, INAF, Jiram, swri. 

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