February 26, 2024

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Makes Closest-Ever Flyby of Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon Io

This JunoCam picture of the Jovian moon Io was collected throughout Junos flyby of the moon on March 1, 2023. At the time of closest approach, Juno was about 32,000 miles (51,500 kilometers) away from Io. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ MSSS, Kevin M. Gill (CC BY).
The gas giant orbiter has flown over 510 million miles and also recorded close encounters with 3 of Jupiters 4 largest moons.
NASAs Juno spacecraft flew previous Jupiters volcanic moon Io on May 16, and then the gas giant itself not long after. The flyby of the Jovian moon was the closest to date, at an altitude of about 22,060 miles (35,500 kilometers). Now in the third year of its prolonged objective to investigate the interior of Jupiter, the solar-powered spacecraft will also explore the ring system where some of the gas giants inner moons reside.
To date, Juno has actually performed 50 flybys of Jupiter and also gathered information throughout close encounters with three of the 4 Galilean moons– the icy worlds Europa and Ganymede, and fiery Io.

At the time of closest method, Juno was about 32,000 miles (51,500 kilometers) away from Io. NASAs Juno spacecraft flew previous Jupiters volcanic moon Io on May 16, and then the gas giant itself quickly after.” We are entering into another fantastic part of Junos objective as we get closer and closer to Io with successive orbits. Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for more than 2,505 Earth days and flown over 510 million miles (820 million kilometers). After the next two Io flybys, on May 16 and July 31, Junos orbital duration will stay set at 32 days.

This composite image of Io was created using data gathered by the JunoCam imager aboard NASAs Juno spacecraft throughout four flybys of the Jovian moon. The resolution of the images gets gradually much better as the range between spacecraft and moon decreases with each flyby (perijove, or PJ). Credit: Image data: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ MSSS/. Image processing, delegated right: Björn Jónsson (CC NC SA), Jason Perry (CC NC SA), Mike Ravine (CC BY), Kevin M. Gill (CC BY).
” Io is the most volcanic celestial body that we understand of in our planetary system,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “By observing it gradually on numerous passes, we can watch how the volcanoes differ– how frequently they appear, how intense and hot they are, whether they are linked to a group or solo, and if the shape of the lava circulation modifications.”.
A little larger than Earths moon, Io is a world in consistent torment. Not just is the biggest planet in the planetary system permanently plucking it gravitationally, but so are its Galilean brother or sisters– Europa and the biggest moon in the solar system, Ganymede. The outcome is that Io is constantly extended and squeezed, actions connected to the development of the lava seen erupting from its lots of volcanoes.
These composite views illustrating volcanic activity on Io were generated using both noticeable light and infrared information gathered by NASAs Juno spacecraft during flybys of the Jovian moon on December 14, 2022 (left) and March 1, 2023. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ ASI/INAF/JIRAM.
While Juno was created to study Jupiter, its lots of sensors have actually additionally provided a wealth of data in the worlds moons. In addition to its noticeable light imager JunoCam, the spacecrafts JIRAM (Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper), SRU (Stellar Reference Unit), and MWR (Microwave Radiometer) will be studying Ios volcanoes and how volcanic eruptions connect with Jupiters powerful magnetosphere and auroras.
” We are participating in another incredible part of Junos mission as we get closer and closer to Io with succeeding orbits. This 51st orbit will supply our closest look yet at this tortured moon,” stated Bolton. “Our upcoming flybys in July and October will bring us even closer, leading up to our twin flyby encounters with Io in December of this year and February of next year, when we fly within 1,500 kilometers of its surface area. All of these flybys are providing amazing views of the volcanic activity of this incredible moon. The data must be fantastic.”.
These infrared views of volcanic activity of Jupiters moon Io were gathered by the JIRAM (Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper) instrument aboard NASAs Juno spacecraft throughout a flyby of the moon on October 16, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ ASI/INAF/JIRAM.
A “Half-Century” at Jupiter.
Throughout its flybys of Jupiter, Juno has actually zoomed low over the planets cloud tops– as close as about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). Approaching the planet from over the north pole and exiting over the south throughout these flybys, the spacecraft utilizes its instruments to penetrate beneath the obscuring cloud cover, studying Jupiters interior and auroras to learn more about the planets origins, structure, magnetosphere, and environment.
This downloadable graphic contains 50 image highlights from NASAs Juno mission to Jupiter. Juno completed its 50th close pass of the gas giant on April 8, 2023.
Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for more than 2,505 Earth days and flown over 510 million miles (820 million kilometers). The spacecraft got to Jupiter on July 4, 2016. The very first science flyby occurred 53 days later on, and the spacecraft continued with that orbital period till its flyby of Ganymede on June 7, 2021, which minimized its orbital period to 43 days. The Europa flyby on September 29, 2022, decreased the orbital duration to 38 days. After the next 2 Io flybys, on May 16 and July 31, Junos orbital duration will stay fixed at 32 days.
” Io is just one of the heavenly bodies which continue to come under Junos microscope throughout this extended objective,” said Junos acting task manager, Matthew Johnson of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “As well as constantly altering our orbit to allow new viewpoints of Jupiter and flying low over the nightside of the planet, the spacecraft will also be threading the needle in between a few of Jupiters rings to read more about their origin and structure.”.
More About the Mission.
NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Juno mission for the principal private investigator, Scott J. Bolton, of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. Juno belongs to NASAs New Frontiers Program, which is managed at NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the firms Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space in Denver built and operates the spacecraft.