Juno completes its closest flyby of Jupiter’s fiery moon Io

On December 30, 2023, NASA’s Juno deep house probe made the closest flyby of Jupiter’s moon Io in over 20 years. The robotic spacecraft handed inside 930 miles (1,500 km) of the volcanic satellite tv for pc, returning closeup photos of the south pole.

Launched on August 5, 2011, Juno is three years into its prolonged mission to check the large planet Jupiter and its moons. Although the newest Io flyby is the closest for Juno, it isn’t the closest on document. That was achieved by the Galileo probe in 2001 when it sped by Io at a distance of 112 miles (181 km).

Throughout Juno’s flyby, the spacecraft’s instrument recorded the exceptional volcanic exercise on Io. The information returned by the three onboard cameras will assist scientists to raised perceive the tidal forces that energy such exercise, and reply the query of whether or not a magma ocean exists beneath the risky floor.

Artist's concept of Juno
Artist’s idea of Juno

NASA

Although Juno arrived at Jupiter in 2016, it is solely accomplished 57 orbits of the planet. It is because the electronics onboard the probe, although closely shielded, are simply broken by Jupiter’s great radioactive belts. To attenuate this, Juno spends most of its time a protected distance away and solely makes periodic quick flybys to the internal Jovian system. Even then, the devices onboard are already exhibiting indicators of significantly degrading, and Mission Management is continually assessing them and growing workarounds.

In accordance with NASA, the newest flyby has altered Juno’s orbit from a interval of 38 days to 35 days, and a second flyby scheduled for February third will additional scale back this to 33 days. This alteration in orbit may even improve the variety of instances Juno’s photo voltaic panels are eclipsed by Jupiter. Nonetheless, NASA engineers are assured that this won’t depart the craft in darkness lengthy sufficient to break its techniques.

“By combining information from this flyby with our earlier observations, the Juno science crew is finding out how Io’s volcanoes differ,” stated Juno’s principal investigator, Scott Bolton of the Southwest Analysis Institute in San Antonio, Texas. “We’re in search of how typically they erupt, how vivid and scorching they’re, how the form of the lava move modifications, and the way Io’s exercise is linked to the move of charged particles in Jupiter’s magnetosphere.”

Supply: NASA

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