Spacecraft Juno From NASA Is Conducting An Extended Mission To Jupiter’s Inner Moons

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The Jupiter mission has already revealed a wealth of information on Ganymede and Europa, and is now aiming its sights on Io, Jupiter’s other moon.

The most volcanically active globe in the Solar System, Jupiter’s moon Io, will be imaged by NASA’s Juno mission December 15, as part of its ongoing examination of Jupiter’s inner moons. Now in its second year of a prolonged mission to probe Jupiter’s innards, the solar-powered spaceship Juno has already conducted a close pass of Ganymede in 2021 and Europa previously this year.

Many recent articles in JGR: Planets, JGR: Space Physics, and Geophysical Research Letters are based on data from the June 7, 2021, Ganymede flyby. Data collected during the flyby includes studies of the moon’s core, surface composition, and ionosphere, in addition to its interaction with Jupiter’s magnetosphere. The first 3D measurements of Europa’s ice shell are among the first findings from Juno’s flyby on September 9.

During the flybys, Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) brought a new dimension to the mission’s investigation of Jovian moons by allowing scientists to see 15 miles (24 kilometers) underneath the surface of Ganymede and Europa’s water ice to collect data on the ice’s composition, clarity, and temperature.

JunoCam visible-light images and those from past Jupiter missions show that Ganymede’s surface is diverse, with a mix of ancient dark terrain, newer bright terrain, bright craters, and linear structures that may be related to tectonic activity.

Juno’s Magnetic Field (MAG) and Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE) sensors captured data throughout the spacecraft’s near approach to Ganymede in June 2021, and it shows clear signs of magnetic field links between Jupiter and Ganymede being severed and reestablished. The ultraviolet spectrograph (UVS) on board Juno has been watching the moon’s ultraviolet auroral emissions, which are structured like two ovals wrapping around Ganymede.