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NASA Releases Most Detailed Photos of Jupiter's Moon Europa in Decades

europa close flyby

An image taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft during a flyby Sept. 29, 2022 shows the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/AndreaLuck©CC BY


NASA’s Juno spacecraft has taken images of Jupiter’s ice-encrusted moon Europa during the closest approach in more than two decades. Closest approach was on the nightside, about 219 miles, or 352 kilometers, above the surface of Europa. Once the spacecraft emerged from the shadow of Europa the spacecraft’s JunoCam camera provided four breathtaking images starting at an altitude of 1522 km as the spacecraft sped away at 23.6 km/sec.  Details as small as 1 kilometer can be resolved. 

“We are very excited about the new images, because they will fill in gaps in the Galileo maps from 20 years ago,” said Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Candy Hansen, a Juno coinvestigator who leads planning for the JunoCam public-engagement camera. “We can see rugged terrain along the terminator (day-night boundary) and trace the ridges greater distances.  We will be looking for changes over the past 20 years.” 

Europa is the sixth-largest moon in the Solar System, slightly smaller than Earth’s moon. Scientists think a salty ocean lies below a miles-thick ice shell, sparking questions about potential conditions capable of supporting life underneath Europa’s surface.

europa close flyby

The complex, ice-covered surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during a flyby on Sept. 29, 2022. At closest approach, the spacecraft came within a distance of about 219 miles (352 kilometers).

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SWRI/MSSS.

Oct. 9, 2022
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