“Ultra-close-up for the first time in 20 years”…The appearance of Jupiter’s moon ‘Europa’ released by NASA

The first photograph taken by NASA’s Juno space probe in super close proximity to Jupiter’s moon Europa has arrived on Earth. The distance between the probe and Europa is only 352 km, the closest in about 20 years since the spacecraft Galileo.

On the 29th (local time), NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) released the first photo of Europa taken by Junocam during a close flight. Surface features near Europa’s equator are revealed.

Photo = NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI/MSSS

The rugged terrain of Europa is visible, covered with ice crust. The hollow part is presumed to be an impact crater.

At the time of filming, the speed of the Juno spacecraft was about 14.7 miles per second (23.6 kilometers per second). During the close flight, Juno collected high-resolution images and detailed data on Europa’s ice shell structure, interior, and surface composition.

Juno’s magnifying glass and microwave radiometer (MWR) data will provide new insights into how Europa’s ice structure is changing under the crust.

Europa photographed by the Juno spacecraft.  Photo = NASA/SwRI/MSSS

The Juno team plans to compare the full images Juno acquired with images from previous missions to determine whether Europa’s surface features have changed over the past two decades.

“Juno’s Europa flight has been very successful,” said Scott Bolton, Juno’s chief researcher.

An infrared image of Jupiter and its moon Europa taken by the James Webb Space Telescope in July.  Photo=NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI, processing and license=Judy Schmidt

Juno’s observations were made prior to the upcoming ‘Europa Clipper’ mission. The Europa Clipper is a spacecraft focused on Europa, where there is supposed to be liquid water under the ice.

The spacecraft will conduct close reconnaissance on Europa and investigate whether Europa, an icy satellite with subterranean seas, has the ability to embrace life. The Europa Clipper is expected to launch in 2024 and arrive at Europa in 2030, six years later.

Meanwhile, with this close flight, the Juno spacecraft corrected its orbit, reducing the time it takes to orbit Jupiter from 43 days to 38 days. Juno will fly close to Jupiter and the most volcanically active ‘Io’ moons in the solar system in 2023 and 2024.

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Europa image released by NASA in 2014.  This photo was captured by NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s, and has been colored to highlight its topographical features.  Photo = NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute

Reporter Min-ha Yang ([email protected]), Electronic Newspaper Internet

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