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NASA's Juno spacecraft captures Jupiter Moon Io's surface in close flyby | See pic

NASA's Juno spacecraft made a close flyby of Jupiter's moon Io, capturing detailed images to understand its volcanic activity and geological features influenced by Jupiter's gravity.

Written By: Vishal Upadhyay New Delhi Published on: February 06, 2024 11:35 IST
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Image Source : NASA'S INSTAGRAM POST Jupiter Moon Io's surface, captured by the Juno spacecraft.

NASA recently shared a close-up image of Jupiter's Moon Io, taken by the Juno spacecraft during its final close flyby on February 3. The spacecraft approached within 1,500 kilometres of Io, capturing a detailed view. Io, one of Jupiter's largest moons, displayed shades of orange, brown, and yellow, with volcanic calderas, lava flows, and mountains casting shadows on its surface.

"On Saturday, Feb. 3, our @NASASolarSystem Juno spacecraft made its final close flyby of Jupiter's moon Io. Similar to the previous flyby on Dec. 30, 2023, this second pass was at a distance of about 930 miles (1,500 kilometres) - or the distance from New York to Orlando, Florida," NASA stated in an Instagram post. 

Io's unique characteristics

NASA explained that Io experiences intense heat and tidal heating due to the gravitational pull from Jupiter and its large moons. This results in volcanic activity and a magma ocean beneath Io's rocky surface. The moon's volcanic engine is influenced by the gravitational forces from Jupiter and neighbouring moons, creating eruptions and lava lakes on its surface.

"Io is caught in a tug-of-war between Jupiter's powerful gravity and the smaller pull from two neighbouring moons, churning its insides and creating eruptions and lakes of lava that cover its surface," NASA mentioned in a caption. 

Scientific goals

NASA aims to gain fresh insights into Io's volcanic processes and investigate the possibility of a global magma ocean beneath its mountainous surface through these recent flybys. The Juno spacecraft, launched in August 2011, arrived at Jupiter in July 2016 and has been studying Jupiter and its moons since then.

Significance of Juno's close approach

The close flyby on December 30, 2023, provided detailed images of Io's surface, making it one of the closest approaches to the moon. The data collected during these encounters will contribute to a better understanding of Io's geological features and the impact of Jupiter's gravitational forces on the moon.

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