Picture of Flaming Lava on Jupiter’s Moon Goes Viral

The brilliant red blotches in the photograph of Io, Jupiter's moon, acquired by NASA's Juno spacecraft, indicate areas of flowing lava and lava lakes. NASA acquired the photo on July 5 and published it this week. The satellite photographed it in infrared when it passed around 80,000 kilometers away.

This infrared image of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io was taken by NASA's Juno mission on July 5, 2022, from a distance of around 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers). This IR picture was created using information gathered by Juno's Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM). The color intensity here corresponds with the highest temperatures measured by JIRAM.

The Jupiter mission has already revealed a wealth of information on Ganymede and Europa, and now it is aiming for Io, Jupiter's other moon.

As part of its ongoing investigation into Jupiter and its inner moons, NASA's Juno mission will acquire photos of Jupiter's moon Io on December 15 of this year. The solar-powered spacecraft completed a near flyby of Ganymede in 2021 and of Europa earlier this year and is now in the second year of its extended mission to probe the innards of Jupiter.

The team is quite enthusiastic about the prospect of studying Jupiter's moons as part of Juno's extended mission. According to Juno's lead scientist, Southwest Research Institute's Scott Bolton, “with each close flyby, we have been able to collect a wealth of new information.” Although Juno's sensors were originally developed for Jupiter research, their ability to act as observatories for Jupiter's moons has been a pleasant surprise.

Journal of Geophysical Research and Geophysical Research Letters just published multiple publications based on the Ganymede flyby on June 7, 2021. Results from the flyby include information about the moon's interior, surface composition, and ionosphere, as well as its interaction with Jupiter's magnetosphere. Some of the preliminary findings from Juno's flyby of Europa on September 9 include the first 3D images of Europa's ice shell.

NASA Releases Image of Flaming Red Lava on Jupiter's Moon

Science Alert reports that at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Juno spacecraft lead investigator Scott Bolton made the following statement to the press “A number of volcanically active regions are clearly visible. We have been able to track the development of this during the course of the primary mission, which has spanned more than 30 orbits.” Mr. Bolton also shared the news that more volcanic hotspots have been discovered in the polar regions than in the tropical regions of the planet.

According to NASA, this is the first of nine flybys planned for Jupiter's moon; two of them will be less than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away. Io's volcanoes and the interaction of volcanic eruptions with Jupiter's powerful magnetosphere and aurora will be studied by Juno scientists during these flybys, the agency said in a press statement.

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