(ORDO NEWS) — Observations by the Juno spacecraft provided the first close-up of Europa, Jupiter’s moon, in more than two decades.
The highest-resolution photograph ever taken by Juno shows a detailed view of the moon’s heavily fractured icy crust.
The image covers approximately 150×200 km of Europa’s surface, showing an area criss-crossed by a network of thin furrows and double ridges (pairs of long parallel lines indicating high ground in the ice).
In the upper right corner of the image, as well as slightly to the right and below the center, dark spots are visible, possibly associated with eruptions to the surface.
The white dots in the image are signatures of penetrating high-energy particles from the harsh radiation environment around the moon.
The Juno camera used to orient the spacecraft captured a black and white image during a flyby of Europa on September 29, 2022 at a distance of about 412 km.
The image was taken as Juno passed at about 24 km/s over a portion of the surface that was dimly lit at night by Jupiter’s radiance, sunlight reflected from the planet’s cloud tops.
The camera, designed for low-light conditions, has also proven to be a valuable scientific tool, detecting lightning in Jupiter’s atmosphere and capturing images of the planet’s ring system.
Now the camera photographs the most interesting geological formations in Europe.
In 2023, Juno will approach another moon of Jupiter – Io.
Europa is the sixth largest satellite in the solar system. Scientists are sure that under the thick ice shell is a salty ocean.
In the early 2030s, NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will be launched to try to answer questions about Europa’s habitability. The data obtained during the Juno flight will be used to plan this mission.
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