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Updated January 1st, 2024 at 16:40 IST

NASA's Juno to end 2023 with closest flyby of Jupiter's volcanic Moon Io in over 20 years

NASA says that Juno has been observing Io's volcanic activity from a distance ranging between 11,000 km to more than 1 lakh km.

Harsh Vardhan
juno
Jupiter's volcanic Moon Io. | Image:NASA
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The Juno spacecraft will fly by Io on December 30, NASA announced. Interestingly, it will be closest than any spacecraft has ever been to Jupiter's volcanic Moon in over 20 years. NASA said that the probe will come within 2500 km from Io's surface and collect unprecedented close up data and pictures.

Pictures taken using Juno's three cameras during the historic flyby are expected to reach Earth in the next few days. Ever since its arrival in Jupiter's orbit in 2016, Juno has made 56 flybys of the gas giant while gathering the planet's data as well as its four biggest Moons - Io, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.

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Artist's impression of the Juno spacecraft. Image: NASA

NASA says that Juno has been observing Io's volcanic activity from a distance ranging between 11,000 km to more than 1 lakh km.

As for the next flyby, Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator said that the mission team will study how Io's volcano vary.

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“We are looking for how often they erupt, how bright and hot they are, how the shape of the lava flow changes, and how Io’s activity is connected to the flow of charged particles in Jupiter’s magnetosphere," he further explained.

The upcoming flyby will be soon followed up with the one on February 3, 2024, from the same distance (2500 km). This distance will eventually extend to about 1,15,000 km with Juno's every other orbit.

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"With our pair of close flybys in December and February, Juno will investigate the source of Io’s massive volcanic activity, whether a magma ocean exists underneath its crust, and the importance of tidal forces from Jupiter, which are relentlessly squeezing this tortured Moon," Bolton said. 
 

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Published December 30th, 2023 at 17:04 IST

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