The image, taken on July 5 and released on Wednesday, shows the outline of lava. streams and lava lakes in the form of bright red spots.
“You can see the hotspots of the volcanoes. We were able to observe during the main mission – more than 30 orbits – how they change and develop, ”Scott Bolton, the principal investigator of NASA’s Juno spacecraft, said at a press conference at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Wednesday.
There are hundreds of volcanoes on Io, according to NASA. Surprisingly, scientists have found more volcanic patches in the polar region than in the planet’s equatorial region, Bolton said.
The Juno space probe has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016. After studying the gas giant, Juno flew past Jupiter’s moon. Ganymede in 2021 and Europe earlier this year.
The spacecraft is due to explore Io, which NASA says is “the most volcanic place in the solar system,” again on Dec. 15. Juno planned nine flybys over the next year and a half.
Scientists hope to gather more data about the Moon‘s volcanoes and its magnetism, which play a tug of war to shape Jupiter’s auroras as they fly. by.
“As we watch volcanoes change and become active and less active, they are driving Jupiter’s giant magnetosphere,” Bolton said on Wednesday.
Auroras are colorful manifestations of light that are not unique to Earth. Jupiter has the brightest auroras in the solar system, according to NASA.
On both Earth and Jupiter, auroras occur when charged particles such as protons or electrons interact with a magnetic field known as the magnetosphere. that surrounds the planet. Jupiter’s magnetic field is about 20,000 times stronger than that of Earth.
The data and insights Juno is gathering could help future missions to study Jupiter’s moons, such as NASA’s Clipper mission, which explores whether Europa can support life.
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