Surface features of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa revealed in images captured by NASA's Juno during Sept 29 flyby


Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 06-10-2022 08:46 IST | Created: 06-10-2022 08:46 IST
Surface features of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa revealed in images captured by NASA's Juno during Sept 29 flyby
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI

Images captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft during its Sept. 29, 2022, flyby of Jupiter's moon Europa reveal a detailed view of a puzzling region of the moon's heavily fractured icy crust.

The image obtained by Juno's Stellar Reference Unit (SRU), a star camera designed for low-light conditions, is the highest-resolution photo the mission has ever taken of a specific portion of Europa. With a resolution ranging from 256 to 340 meters per pixel, the image was captured as the spacecraft raced past at about 24 kilometres per second over a part of the surface that was in nighttime, dimly lit by Jupiter shine - sunlight reflecting off the gas giant's cloud tops.

The SRU image reveals a region crisscrossed with a network of fine grooves and double ridges (pairs of long parallel lines indicating elevated features in the ice). The dark stains near the upper right of the image, as well as just to the right and below center, are possibly linked to something from below erupting onto the surface. The white dots are signatures of penetrating high-energy particles from the severe radiation environment around the moon.

"With this flyby of Europa, Juno has now seen close-ups of two of the most interesting moons of Jupiter, and their ice shell crusts look very different from each other. In 2023, Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system, will join the club," said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

In June 2021, Juno sailed by Jupiter's moon Ganymede, which is also the largest moon in our solar system.

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