NASA’s Juno spacecraft captures Jupiter’s moon Europa image, shares on Instagram

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s has shared news images of Jupiter’s complex, ice-covered surface of moon Europa.

The image was captured by Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit (SRU) on 29 September, 2022, during a flyby when Juno was just 352 km above the surface.

This is considered to be the closest a spacecraft has ever got to Europe in over 22 years. Prior to this, NASA’s Galileo came within 218 miles (351 kilometres) of the surface.

As per NASA, Europa is the sixth-largest moon in the solar system which is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon.

Scientists claim a salty ocean lies below a miles-thick ice shell, which spark questions on the potential conditions capable of supporting life underneath Europa’s surface.

ALSO READ: Meet this NASA astronaut who will become 1st native American woman in Space

“Launched on August 5, 2011, Juno has blazed a mission beyond its original five-year journey to our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter. Now in its extended mission, Juno is now an explorer of the full Jovian system, which expands to Jupiter’s outer rings and moons,” NASA wrote on Instagram.

Adding, “JunoCam images help fill in gaps in the maps from images obtained by Voyager and Galileo missions. Citizen scientists have provided unique perspectives of Juno’s recent flyby – citizen scientist Bjorn Jonsson processed the image to enhance the colour and contrast, revealing Europa’s surface features. Using raw images taken by JunoCam, the spacecraft’s public-engagement camera, these Europa photographs were reprocessed by interested members of the public to create deep-space portraits of the Jovian moon that aren’t only awe-inspiring but also worthy of further scientific scrutiny.”

The spacecraft only had a two-hour window to collect the image and it raced past the moon with a relative velocity of about 23.6 kilometres per second.

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Björn Jónsson

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