What it is: Io, a moon of Jupiter and the Solar systemThe most volcanic world.
When it was taken: December 30, 2023
Why is it so special: NASA’s Juno spacecraft has captured the closest views of Io from NASA The Galileo spacecraft took images of the volcanic world in 2001. Passing just 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from Io, the spacecraft took six images of the moon’s pitted surface. This image also shows the delicate “Jupiter glow”: sunlight reflected by Jupiter’s clouds onto Io’s surface.
Io is the most volcanic world in the world. Solar system; Its surface is dotted with hundreds of volcanoes, some of which spew columns of sulfur hundreds of kilometers into the air, according to Live Science’s sister site. space.com. This is a result of Io’s proximity to Jupiter, whose moon orbits every 42 hours. This proximity produces friction, as do Io’s gravitational interactions with Jupiter’s giant moons Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. The gravitational tug-of-war will likely result in a turbulent ocean of magma beneath Io’s rocky surface, triggering volcanic eruptions that are orders of magnitude more powerful than those on Earth.
Planetary scientists hope the images will shed light on how Io’s volcanoes vary, including how often they erupt, how bright and hot they are, and how Io’s activity is connected to the flow of charged particles in the magnetosphere. of Jupiter.
This is the first of two very close flybys of Io. The next one is scheduled for February 3, when Juno will again approach within 930 miles of the volcanic moon.
However, there is a chance that Juno’s imaging system, JunoCam, may not last long enough. Severely degraded by radiation after 56 flybys of Jupiter since Juno’s arrival in 2016, JunoCam was severely damaged after its most recent orbit of Jupiter in November, according to POT. In December, engineers used Juno’s built-in heater to restore the chamber, but it is unknown how long this process, called annealing, will take. Juno is scheduled to deorbit towards Jupiter in September 2025.