NASA spacecraft to visit solar system's most volcanic world
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According to Scott Bolton from the Juno team, with each new flyby of Io, scientists will be able to get even more information about this unusual world.
“The instruments of this spacecraft are designed to observe Jupiter, but they also do a good job with observations of Io,” says Bolton.
One of Juno's important achievements in recent months was that the unit was able to take a new image of Jupiter's northernmost cyclone in late September. The atmosphere of this planet is dominated by hundreds of cyclones, many of which are concentrated at the poles.
The Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016 to learn more about the giant planet, but part of its expanded mission, which began in 2021, is to study the gas giant's satellites. The device will have to do its scientific work until the end of 2025.
Juno flew past Jupiter's moon Ganymede in 2021 and over Europa earlier this year. The spacecraft used its instruments to peer under the icy shells of both moons to learn more about their composition. It is believed that there is a salty ocean in the bowels of Europe, which goes to a depth of 64 to 160 km under an ice shell with a thickness of 16 to 24 km.
All the data that Juno collects will be used to prepare the flights of two spacecraft to Jupiter and its satellites.
The European Space Agency JUICE device should to fly into space in April 2023 and within three years after arrival will study Jupiter and its three icy moons – Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. All three moons are believed to have oceans below the surface, and scientists want to find out if Ganymede's ocean is potentially habitable.
And NASA's Europa Clipper will be launched into space in 2024 to make a post-arrival to the goal of 50 overflights of Europe. Scientists want to know if there really is an internal ocean there and if this satellite can support life.
As Focus already wrote, some scientists suggest that there is still an underground ocean on Io, but it does not consist of water at all, but of magma.