It is Juno’s closest approach to Europa since its launch in 2016. It is believed that this moon may hold information about life in the universe.
NASA ‘s Juno probe flew past Europa , Jupiter’s icy moon, on Thursday, only 358 kilometers from its surface.
This flyby is one of the closest to date of the giant and will show us with great fidelity greater details of this moon, one of the most enigmatic in the universe.
Europe in the eyes of science
Europa is a moon that maintains layers of ice on its surface. The last time it was studied in detail was decades ago with the Galileo mission.
Now Juno , with more powerful instruments and an improved camera, will be able to deliver images and unique information about itself.
Scientists have long been curious about Europa , which is covered in ice but is thought to have a vast ocean below the surface due to the moon’s hot core. Planetary scientists believe that there is probably more liquid water in its depths than on Earth.
Although the ice sheet is thought to be several kilometers thick, the Hubble Space Telescope has collected data indicating that geysers can periodically erupt through cracks in this ice. Due to the presence of water and heat, this ocean is a potential reservoir for exotic microbial life.
we still have to wait
Juno will bring new tools to study this polar cap. For example, the spacecraft’s microwave radiometer will look at Europa’s crust and obtain data on the composition and temperature of its ice. This is the first time such data has been collected to study the lunar cryosphere.
The visual images and scientific data will help inform NASA scientists completing assembly of the Europa Clipper spacecraft, a large spacecraft scheduled for launch in 2024.
The Juno images will reach the planet in the next few hours and NASA will be in charge of revealing them to the entire world.