An image taken last summer by the Juno space agency and just released to the public shows incredible details of the mysterious moon’s volcanically active surface.
Recall that on the surface of Io, whose diameter is approximately 3,643 kilometers, there are at least 400 active volcanoes, some of which “shoot” hot lava fountains to a height of more than 300 kilometers! Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system .
Juno’s observations will no doubt provide exciting new data on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon.
“You can see volcanic hotspots,” said Scott Bolton, an astrophysicist at the Southwestern Research Institute (SwRI) and lead investigator for NASA’s Juno mission.
“Over the course of the main mission more than 30 orbits we could track how it all changes and develops.”
Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since July 5, 2016. During this time, the device not only flew around Jupiter many times, but also approached some of the satellites of the gas giant.
“With every close flyby, we got a huge amount of new information,” Bolton added.
“Juno’s sensors are designed to study Jupiter, but we were delighted with how well they could double duty as satellites.”
The Juno probe also successfully probed the incredibly thick icy “shells” of Ganymede and Europa , Jupiter’s other large moons.
Sensitive instruments made it possible to “penetrate” to a depth of about 24 kilometers to change the temperature and thickness of the ice sheets.
As for Io, this was only the first of nine planned overflights. According to NASA, during two future approaches, Juno will fly at an altitude of less than 1,500 kilometers from the surface of the satellite.
If all goes well, this will be the first ever “high-resolution monitoring campaign” that aims to study how Io’s many volcanoes interact with the magnetosphere.
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