(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew within 357 km of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This is the closest rendezvous between a NASA spacecraft and Europe in over 20 years.
Scientists believe that under the thick frozen crust of the moon of Jupiter, an ocean flows, increasing the likelihood of the existence of underwater life.
The researchers are hoping they will be lucky and be able to observe possible water columns rising from the surface of Europa, which is close in size to the Earth’s moon.
“We have to be in the right place at the right time, and if we’re lucky, it’s sure to be a home run,” Juno mission chief scientist Scott Bolton of the Southwestern Research Institute in San Antonio said in a statement.
Photos should be ready by Friday. These observations will help NASA plan for its Europa Clipper mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2024.
Also next year, the ESA’s Juice (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission will start to explore the icy moons of Jupiter.
NASA’s former Galileo spacecraft still holds the record for rendezvous with Europe. In 2000, he approached the satellite at a distance of 351 km.
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