Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and NASA’s Juno spacecraft are going to draw extremely close. The closest flyby of the moon in many years is about to occur thanks to Juno. On Thursday, September 29, the probe will make a close pass and collect data and pictures.
A minor solar system celebrity is Europa. It’s a small, cold globe about the size of the moon. What might be below is of great interest to researchers. NASA stated that the possibility of conditions conducive to hosting life beneath Europa’s surface has been raised by the theory that a salty ocean resides beneath a miles-thick ice crust.
Juno will fly by Europa’s surface at a distance of 358 kilometres (222 miles). That is approximately how far Washington, D.C. is from New York City. The fascinating moon will likely appear in some of the highest-resolution photos ever shot, according to NASA.
In 2016, Juno was launched into Jupiter’s orbit, and in 2021, it was given a mission extension to continue researching the gas giant’s rings and three of its largest moons. After taking a look at the moon Ganymede, it is now prepared to focus on the moon Europa.
Although Juno will also be in full data collection mode, we may expect outstanding images. The icy outer layer of the moon will be examined by the equipment on board the spacecraft for composition and temperature. Additionally, it will investigate the moon’s relationship with Jupiter as well as its ionosphere, which is a component of its atmosphere.
The possibility that Juno will be able to observe one of the moon’s enigmatic geysers is being hoped for by scientists. According to Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton, “We have the proper tools to accomplish the job, but to capture a plume will require a lot of luck.” We have to be at the right place at the perfect time, but if we are lucky, it’s unquestionably a home run.
All of this fresh data will aid NASA in preparing for the Europa Clipper mission, which will study the moon’s potential capacity to harbour life within its watery confines.
The Galileo mission’s near encounter with Europa in 2000 marked the last time a spacecraft came this close to the planet.