The image, captured in July but released by NASA this week, was taken by the Juno spacecraft’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) imager.
It shows several of Io’s volcanoes as bright lights, some fountains of lava erupting tens of kilometers high.
NASA said Juno took another set of images of Io (pronounced “eye-oh”) on Thursday, Dec. 15, which will be released soon.
The volcanic surface of Jupiter’s moon Io was captured in infrared by the Juno spacecraft’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) imager as it flew at a distance of about 50,000 miles on July 5, 2022. Points brighter indicates higher temperatures
Io: Jupiter’s third largest moon
Jupiter has 80 known moons and the four largest, known as the “Galilean moons”, are Europa, Ganymede, Io and Callisto.
Io (pronounced ‘eye-oh’) was discovered on January 8, 1610 by Galileo Galilei.
The discovery, along with three other Jovian moons, was the first time a moon had been discovered orbiting a planet other than Earth.
Slightly larger than Earth’s Moon, Io is the third largest of Jupiter’s moons and the fifth in distance from the planet.
Io’s orbit keeps it about 422,000 km (262,000 miles) from Jupiter’s volcanoes Io was discovered by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in 1979.
Juno arrived on Jupiter in 2016 after a five-year journey, and it will continue to make flybys of the planet and its moons until 2025.
The spacecraft is now in the second year of its extended mission to investigate Jupiter’s interior.
It was scheduled to end in February 2018 after completing 37 orbits of Jupiter, but was tasked through 2025 to complete 42 more orbits.
“The team is really excited that Juno’s expanded mission includes studying Jupiter’s moons,” said Juno principal investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
“The Juno sensors are designed to study Jupiter, but we were excited to see how well they can serve double duty observing Jupiter’s moons.”
The image of Io’s volcanic surface was captured in infrared by JIRAM as Juno hovered at a distance of approximately 50,000 miles (80,000 km) on July 5, 2022.
The brightest points in the image – which look like a set of Christmas lights – indicate the highest temperatures.
Io is described by NASA as “the most volcanic place in the solar system”, with hundreds of volcanoes erupting from lava fountains.
The moon even has lakes of molten silicate lava – molten mixtures dominated by oxygen and silicon – on its surface.
In the new shot, Io appears red due to the infrared light captured by JIRAM, but the best approximation of what it would look like to the human eye shows a predominantly yellowish globe, punctuated with green and black flecks.
Approximately true color image of Io from the Galileo spacecraft. The dark spot just left of center is the erupting volcano Prometheus. Most of Io’s surface has pastel colors, punctuated with black, brown, green, orange, and red units near active volcanic centers. The whitish plains on either side are covered in volcanically deposited sulfur dioxide frost, while the more yellow regions contain a higher proportion of sulfur
Io will remain an object of the Juno team’s attention for the next year and a half.
Juno’s exploration on Dec. 15 marked the first of nine flybys, two of which were just 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) apart.
NASA says: “Juno scientists will use these flybys to conduct the first high-resolution survey campaign on the magma-encrusted moon, studying Io’s volcanoes and how volcanic eruptions interact with Jupiter’s powerful magnetosphere and auroras. .”
A solar-powered rotating spacecraft, Juno arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011.
Juno is depicted here in an artist’s impression as it approaches Jupiter. Juno has been orbiting Jupiter and its moon for five years
In 2016, the Juno spacecraft arrived on Jupiter after a nearly five-year journey. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011, and its primary mission is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter (artist’s impression)
Juno has three giant blades that extend about 66 feet (20 meters) from its six-sided cylindrical body.
Footage of Ganymede’s flyby was captured as it passed within 1,038 kilometers of the icy moon.
The image made available by NASA and captured by the Juno spacecraft in June 2021 shows the dark side of the moon Ganymede
This second NASA image shows the dark side of the Jovian moon Ganymede taken by the Juno spacecraft as it flew overhead
The last time a spacecraft came this close to Ganymede was in May 2000, when NASA’s Galileo spacecraft passed by.
Likewise, Juno gave us the closest look at Europa any spacecraft has provided in more than 20 years, when Galileo came within 218 miles (351 km) of the surface in January 2000.
Juno captured Europa’s ice-encrusted surface in extraordinary detail when it came within 352 km of its surface on September 29.
Up close and personal: NASA’s Juno spacecraft takes its first photos of Jupiter’s moon Europa, capturing the ice-encrusted surface in extraordinary detail
The images are the closest look at Europa any spacecraft has provided in more than 20 years, when the US space agency’s Galileo came within 218 miles (351 km) of the surface in January 2000
A NASA interactive tool provides real-time updates of Juno’s position relative to Jupiter and its moons.
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The Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter in 2016 after a five-year, 1.8 billion-mile journey from Earth
The Juno spacecraft reached Jupiter on July 4, 2016, after a five-year, 1.8 billion mile (2.8 billion km) journey from Earth.
After a successful braking maneuver, it entered a long polar orbit flying less than 3,100 miles (5,000 km) from the planet’s swirling cloud tops.
The probe flew just 2,600 miles (4,200 km) above the planet’s clouds once every fortnight – too close to provide global coverage in a single image.
No previous spacecraft has orbited this close to Jupiter, although two others have been sent plunging to destruction through its atmosphere.
To carry out its risky mission, Juno survived a circuit-frying radiation storm generated by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field.
The maelstrom of high-energy particles moving near the speed of light is the harshest radiation environment in the solar system.
To cope with the conditions, the spacecraft was protected with special radiation-resistant wiring and sensor shielding.
Its all-important “brain” – the spacecraft’s flight computer – was housed in a titanium armored vault and weighed nearly 400 pounds (172 kg).
The spacecraft should study the composition of the planet’s atmosphere until 2025.