A NASA probe will swoop to round 350 kilometres above Europa’s floor on 29 September, returning detailed photographs and knowledge on its magnetic fields and icy crust


eight September 2022

Composite of the Juno spacecraft near Europa

The Juno spacecraft will get a close-up view of Europa


NASA’s Juno spacecraft is about to offer scientists their closest take a look at Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa in additional than 22 years.

The mission will swoop to round 350 kilometres above Europa’s floor on 29 September, returning detailed photographs in addition to knowledge in regards to the moon’s magnetic subject and its icy crust.

The final time a spacecraft obtained equally near Europa was in January 2000 when NASA’s Galileo orbiter swung by at a distance of 351 kilometres.

“We’ve already accomplished all of the preparations. We’re actually excited. All the pieces is on course,” says Scott Bolton, the Juno mission’s principal investigator.

“Our flyby is slightly distinctive. The a part of Europa that we’re going to have the ability to see doesn’t have notably high-resolution knowledge on it from Galileo, so this’ll be the primary time we’ve been capable of see that [region] at very excessive decision,” he says.

All of Juno’s scientific devices can be capturing knowledge in the course of the speedy move, says Bolton. Its essential digital camera, JunoCam, will produce a handful of wide-field views whereas its navigation digital camera, often known as the stellar reference unit, can be tasked with taking a single, very high-resolution image of a small patch of Europa’s nightside, lit solely by the scattered mild from Jupiter’s cloud tops.

Researchers additionally hope to make use of the flyby to glean insights into Europa’s ice shell utilizing Juno’s microwave radiometer. Bolton likens the instrument to a radar machine, “besides it’s passive, so we’re simply emission popping out [from Europa] versus sending a sign in and watching it bounce off”, he says. The radiometer’s knowledge may give scientists clues in regards to the depth of the shell and should reveal if there are fractured areas or areas of liquid throughout the frozen crust.

The staff will even search for indicators of the water vapour plumes that research have urged emanate from Europa, although Bolton stresses that these options “must be going off on the proper time in a method that we will see them”.

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By 24H

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