On March 1, 2023, NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew by Jupiter’s moon Io, coming within 51,500 km (32,030 miles) of the innermost and third-largest of the four Galilean moons. The stunning new images provide the best and closest view of the most volcanic moon in our Solar System since the New Horizons mission flew past Io and the Jupiter system in 2006 on its way to Pluto.Continue reading “Just Dropped: New Close-up Images of Io from Juno, With More to Come”
Juno has Been Touring Jupiter’s Moons on its Extended Mission. Next Stop: Volcanic Io
For a tiny moon orbiting a giant planet, Io sure packs a giant wallop. It’s the most volcanic world in the solar system. Due to that extreme volcanism, scientists with the Juno mission are now focusing the spacecraft’s instruments and cameras on Io. They want to know more about its eruptions and how its constant stream of material into space interacts with Jupiter’s magnetosphere.Continue reading “Juno has Been Touring Jupiter’s Moons on its Extended Mission. Next Stop: Volcanic Io”
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Here are the High-Resolution Images of Europa Captured by Juno During its Recent Flyby
It’s been over twenty-two years since we’ve been able to see Jupiter’s enticing moon Europa close-up. But now the Juno spacecraft has made its closest pass of Europa, sending back some amazing pictures of the icy mini-world, which likely has an ocean that contains more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.
Observations from the spacecraft’s 45th orbit around Jupiter brought it close enough to give us some of the best views of Europa that we’ve ever had.Continue reading “Here are the High-Resolution Images of Europa Captured by Juno During its Recent Flyby”
A Fascinating Look at Jupiter's Clouds Where the Light Intensity is Converted Into 3D
In July 2016, NASA’s Juno space probe reached Jupiter, becoming the second spacecraft in history to orbit the gas giant (the first being the Galileo probe that orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003). The data it has sent back has led to new revelations about the Jovian atmosphere, magnetosphere, gravitational field, structure, and composition. While its primary mission was intended to only last until 2018, a mission extension means that Juno will continue to orbit Jupiter’s poles (a perijove maneuver) and send back stunning images and data until 2025.
Recently, a team of citizen scientists led by mathematician and software developer Gerald Eichstädt used images taken by the probe’s visible-light camera/telescope (the JunoCam) to create a 3D animation of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere. Eichstädt’s animation was presented at the 2022 Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC), which took place from September 18 – 23 in Granada, and shows the relative heights of the cloud tops of Jupiter that reveal delicately textured swirls and peaks. Eichstädt’s work also showcased the potential for citizen science and public engagement with today’s missions.Continue reading “A Fascinating Look at Jupiter's Clouds Where the Light Intensity is Converted Into 3D”
NASA’s Juno To Skim the Surface of Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa
This next week will mark a scientifically valuable achievement for NASA’s Juno mission, as the pioneering spacecraft is slated to fly within 358 kilometers (222 miles) of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa on September 29 at 5:36 a.m. EDT (2:36 a.m. PDT) as part of its extended mission to explore the Jupiter system. A flyby this close to Europa’s surface will allow Juno to acquire some of the highest-resolution images ever taken of the icy moon. For context, the last mission to explore Europa in depth was NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which got within 351 kilometers (218 miles) of the surface on January 3, 2000.Continue reading “NASA’s Juno To Skim the Surface of Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa”
Jupiter is up to 9% Rock and Metal, Which Means it Ate a lot of Planets in its Youth
Jupiter is composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. The amounts of each closely conform to the theoretical quantities in the primordial solar nebula. But it also contains other heavier elements, which astronomers call metals. Even though metals are a small component of Jupiter, their presence and distribution tell astronomers a lot.
According to a new study, Jupiter’s metal content and distribution mean that the planet ate a lot of rocky planetesimals in its youth.Continue reading “Jupiter is up to 9% Rock and Metal, Which Means it Ate a lot of Planets in its Youth”
Juno’s Entire 42nd Flight Past Jupiter in One Amazing Mosaic
On May 23, 2022, the Juno spacecraft made another close pass of Jupiter, with its suite of scientific instruments collecting data and its JunoCam visible light camera snapping photos all the while. This close pass, called a perijove, is the 42nd time the spacecraft has swung past Jupiter since Juno’s arrival in 2016.Continue reading “Juno’s Entire 42nd Flight Past Jupiter in One Amazing Mosaic”
Ganymede Casts a Long Shadow Across the Surface of Jupiter
What is that large dark smudge on Jupiter’s side? It may remind you of a certain scene from the sci-fi film “2010: The Year We Make Contact,” where a growing black spot appears in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
But this is a real photo, and the dark spot is just an elongated shadow of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon. Just like when Earth’s Moon crosses between our planet and the Sun creating an eclipse for lucky Earthlings, when Jupiter’s moons cross between the gas giant and the Sun, they create shadows too.Continue reading “Ganymede Casts a Long Shadow Across the Surface of Jupiter”
Jupiter and Ganymede are Connected by Magnetic Fields
On July 5th, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter and began its four-year mission (which has since been extended to 2025) to study the gas giant’s atmosphere, composition, magnetosphere, and gravitational environment. Juno is the first dedicated mission to study Jupiter since the Galileo probe studied the system between 1995 and 2003. The images and data it has sent back to Earth have revealed much about Jupiter’s atmosphere, aurorae, polar storms, internal structure, and moons.
In addition, the Juno mission has allowed astronomers to learn more about how magnetic interaction between some of Jupiter’s moons and its atmosphere leads the gas giant to experience aurorae around its northern and southern poles. After analyzing data from Juno’s payload, a team of researchers from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) observed how streams of electrons from Ganymede (Jupiter’s largest moon) leave an “auroral footprint” in Jupiter’s atmosphere.Continue reading “Jupiter and Ganymede are Connected by Magnetic Fields”
Just Look at the Jaw-Dropping Detail of These Storms on Jupiter
The latest images from the Juno mission at Jupiter includes views of giant storms and vortexes on the gas giant world in amazing detail.Continue reading “Just Look at the Jaw-Dropping Detail of These Storms on Jupiter”