The two most powerful space telescopes ever built, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Hubble Space Telescope, are about to gather data about the most volcanically body in the entire solar system, Jupiter’s first Galilean Moon, Io. This data will be used in combination with upcoming flybys of Io by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which is currently surveying the Jupiter system and is slated to conduct these flybys later this year and early 2024. The purpose of examining this small, volcanic moon with these two powerful telescopes and one orbiting spacecraft is for scientists to gain a better understanding of how Io’s escaping atmosphere interacts with Jupiter’s surrounding magnetic and plasma environment.Continue reading “Exploring Io’s Volcanic Activity via Hubble and Webb Telescopes”
The Galilean Moons, named in honor of Galileo Galileo, who first observed them in 1610, are a fascinating collection of satellites. For decades, scientists have been immensely fascinated by the three icy companions – Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – which have oceans in their interiors that possibly support life. But Io has also been a focal point of interest lately, owing to the volcanic activity on its surface and lava plumes reaching 300 to 500 km (186 to 310 mi) into space. Since 2016, NASA’s Juno probe has provided stunning images of Io as it continues to orbit its main science objective, Jupiter.
The latest was acquired by the Juno probe’s main camera (JunoCam) on July 31st, 2023, at 05:03 AM UTC (01:03 AM EDT; July 30th, 10:03 PM PDT) and showed Prometheus spewing out lava. This active volcano is located within a 28-km (17-mi) -wide volcanic pit named Prometheus Patera on the hemisphere facing away from Jupiter. Prometheus is known for its regular eruptions, hence its nickname in the astrogeological community, “Old Faithful of Io.” A processed image of the eruption was shared by the NASA Planetary Science Division via Twitter (see below).Continue reading “Juno Shares Stunning New Images of Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon Io”
A pair of studies published in JGR: Planets and Science Advances discuss new findings from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) regarding Jupiter’s first and third Galilean Moons, Io and Ganymede, and more specifically, how the massive Jupiter is influencing activity on these two small worlds. For Io, whose mass is about 21 percent larger than Earth’s Moon, the researchers made the first discovery of sulfur monoxide (SO) gas on the volcanically active moon. For Ganymede, which is the largest moon in the solar system and boasts twice the mass of the Earth’s Moon, the researchers made the first discovery of hydrogen peroxide, which exists in Ganymede’s polar regions.Continue reading “Jupiter’s Moons Get the JWST Treatment”
A professor from Northumbria University in the North East region of England has been granted telescope time with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) later this year to study Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, also known as its ionosphere. Being granted such access to JWST is extremely competitive which makes getting access to use its powerful instruments to study the cosmos a very high honor.Continue reading “UK Professor Granted JWST Observation Time to Study Jupiter’s Upper Atmosphere”
While Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is one of the most well-known spectacles in the solar system, Jupiter’s clouds and stripes that are responsible for the planet’s weather patterns are highly regarded, as well. Though not nearly as visible in an amateur astronomy telescope, Jupiter’s multicolored, rotating, and swirling cloud stripes are a sight to behold for any astronomy fan when seen in up-close images. And, what makes these stripes unique is they have been observed to change color from time to time, but the question of what causes this color change to occur has remained elusive.Continue reading “Jupiter’s “Stripes” Change Color. Now We Might Know Why”
Launched on April 14, 2023, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice; formerly known as JUICE) spacecraft has finally completed the unfurling of its solar panel arrays and plethora of booms, probes, and antennae while en route to the solar system’s largest planet.Continue reading “Juice is Fully Deployed. It’s Now in its Final Form, Ready to Meet Jupiter’s Moons in 2031”
ESA’s Juice mission launched last month on April 14, beginning its long journey to explore Jupiter’s icy moons, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. But soon after launch, mission controllers realized a 16-meter (52.5 ft)-long antenna for a radar instrument was jammed and couldn’t deploy. The Radar for Icy Moons Exploration (RIME) antenna is mission critical, as it gathers data for the instrument that will be able to map beneath the ice at these moons.
But, whew, the story has a happy ending. After nearly a month of efforts to free the stuck antenna, engineers figured out a fix for the RIME antenna. They fired a mechanical device in the jammed bracket, which created enough jiggling and rattling to allow the antenna to fully deploy.Continue reading “Hurray! Juice Deploys its Stuck Antenna”
One of the challenges of gravitational wave astronomy is moving its abilities beyond observations of stellar mass mergers. The collision of two black holes or neutron stars releases a tremendous amount of gravitational energy, but even this is a challenge to detect. Gravitational waves do not couple strongly with most matter, so it takes a tremendous amount of sensitive observations to observe. But we are getting better at it, and there are a few proposals that hope to take our observations even further. One example of this is a recent study that looks at utilizing the magnetospheres of Earth and Jupiter.Continue reading “The Earth's Magnetosphere Could be Used as a Gravitational Wave Observatory”
In space, cataclysmic events happen to stars all the time. Some explode as supernovae, some get torn apart by black holes, and some suffer other fates. But when it comes to planets, stars turn the tables. Then it’s the stars who get to inflict destruction.
Expanding red giant stars consume and destroy planets that get too close, and a new study takes a deeper look at the process of stellar engulfment.Continue reading “One in Ten Stars Ate a Jupiter (Or Bigger)”
As the European Space Agency’s Juice spacecraft headed out on an eight-year trip to Jupiter’s icy moons, it turned back to snap some selfies with Earth in the background — and those awesome shots are just the start.
The bus-sized probe is due to make four slingshot flybys of Earth and Venus to pick up some gravity-assisted boosts to its destination — and ESA mission managers plan to have the monitoring cameras running during those close encounters.Continue reading “Juice Looks Back at Earth During Its Space Odyssey to Jupiter’s Moons”