NASA’s Jupiter probe has captured a rare close-up of the icy world.
Gliding just 219 miles (352 kilometers) above the surface of Europe, this 2-hour flyby is one of the three closest glimpses of the ice world ever. The last similar comment we received was on January 3, 2000, by a Galileo associate. NASAThe Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California said in a statement:
“Rough terrain features, including tall blocks that cast shadows, are easily visible, but light and dark ridges and valleys curve across the surface. It could be an impact crater,” said a JPL official. I wrote about Juno’s flyby image (opens in new tab) Thursday (September 29th).
Geological data from the flyby is just beginning to come in, but officials called Juno’s rare appearance key to establishing NASA’s observations of its arrival. europa clipper A mission launched in just two years to study the icy moon.
“Europa Clipper will study the moon’s atmosphere, surface, and interior. A primary scientific goal is to determine if there are places below Europa’s surface that can support life,” said JPL. It describes a mission that will reach the Jupiter system. 2030.
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as the sixth largest month in solar systemEuropa is similar in size to earth, but its formation and evolutionary history is very different. Europa has a giant crust of ice over an ocean that researchers believe could potentially support Earth-like life.
According to JPL, during the flyby, Juno collected the highest resolution photographs of the Moon at 0.6 miles or 1 km per pixel, along with information about the Moon’s environment, atmosphere, surface and internal structure.
“The science team will look to see if Europa’s surface features have changed over the past 20 years,” says Juno collaborator Candy Hansen, who leads the JunoCam project (where the images were taken) at the Institute for Planetary Science. said. in Tucson, Arizona.
Data from Juno’s microwave radiometer instrument could be particularly important for future missions such as Clipper.
Scientists took advantage of the flyby to slightly alter Juno’s trajectory. This is because Juno will make her one orbit around Jupiter in her 38 Earth days (compared to her previous 43 days). Io If the mission can continue to survive in intense radiation belts near Jupiter, it’s expected in 2023 and 2024.