(ORDO NEWS) — These observations made it possible to take a fresh look at the chemical composition of these ice objects.
Jupiter’s icy moons Europa and Ganymede will soon be visited by new spacecraft that will surely reveal their secrets.
However, planetary scientists are also not sitting idly by. They have ground-based telescopes that allow observations to be made at great distances.
So, astronomers have published (so far) the clearest images of Jupiter’s moons taken from Earth.
Perhaps part of it was thrown out by the nearby moon Io, which is the only known place outside the Earth with active volcanoes.
“We have mapped the distribution of various materials on the surface, including sulfuric acid frost, which is mostly found on the side of Europe that is most heavily bombarded by gases rising from Jupiter,” said study lead author Oliver King of the University of Leicester’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
Even a slightly blurred image of Jupiter’s moon Europa shows that its icy surface perfectly reflects sunlight.
Observations of Ganymede show that its surface can be conditionally divided into two parts: a young area, rich in water and ice, and an old one, the composition of which is unknown.
Jupiter’s icy moons were imaged in infrared with the SPHERE instrument at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope in Chile.
Ganymede is the only moon known to have a magnetic field that can cause the auroras, bright ribbons of glowing gas, to surround its poles.
These, of course, are not the clearest images, but let’s hope that the next generation of telescopes will allow us to see any objects in the solar system without sending expensive devices to them.
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