Tuesday, December 6

NASA’s Juno spacecraft shares first Europa flyby image | Digital Trends Spanish


After transmitting images of its flyby of the Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymedeas well as stunning images of Jupiter itself, the Juno spacecraft NASA did the same this week for another of the planet’s moons: Europa.

And the first results do not disappoint.

“This is the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, as seen today by our Juno Mission spacecraft from a distance of approximately 219 miles (352 kilometers),” NASA said in a tweet on Thursday.

📸 Witness Europe in unprecedented detail!

Today, @NASASolarSystem‘s #JunoMission captured the highest resolution images taken of Jupiter’s moon in decades, as well as collected data on its interior, surface composition, & ionosphere. Here’s what we saw: https://t.co/h8fYr1qBcZ pic.twitter.com/eDDVyVw0nw

— NASA Astrobiology: Exploring Life in the Universe (@NASAAstrobio) September 29, 2022

The image, a larger version of which appears below, shows surface features in a region near the moon’s equator called Annwn Regio.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI/MSSS

Europa is the sixth largest moon in the solar system and is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon. Scientists think a salty ocean could exist beneath a mile-thick ice sheet, raising the exciting possibility that Europa has the conditions to support some form of life.

The image is the first close-up of Europa’s moon in more than two decades after NASA’s Galileo spacecraft came within 218 miles (351 kilometers) of its surface in 2020, and offers the best resolution of any image. of Europe to date.

Juno captured it as it cruised across the moon’s surface at about 14.7 miles per second (23.6 kilometers per second).

When discussing the image, NASA said: “Because of the enhanced contrast between light and shadow seen along the terminator (the night boundary), rugged terrain features are easily seen, including tall blocks that cast shadows, while bright ridges and valleys and dark ones curve across the surface,” adding that the oblong pit near the terminator on the left of the image could be a weathered impact crater.

The flyby has also provided NASA scientists with new data about Europa’s interior, surface composition, and ionosphere, which we can expect to hear more about in the coming weeks. More images like the one above can also be expected soon.

“It’s very early in the process, but by all accounts, Juno’s Europa flyby was a huge success,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “This first image is just a glimpse of the remarkable new science coming from Juno’s entire suite of instruments and sensors that acquired data as we skimmed across the moon’s icy crust.”

Juno reached Jupiter in 2016 after launching from Earth five years earlier. NASA is currently preparing its Europa Clipper spacecraft for a mission in 2024 that will strive to learn even more about Jupiter’s icy moon, with one of its main goals being to confirm whether or not it has the conditions to support life.

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