July 22, 2024

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New NASA images show fiery eruptions from volcanoes on Jupiter's moon

New NASA images show fiery eruptions from volcanoes on Jupiter's moon

NASA's Juno spacecraft has completed two flybys of Jupiter's moon Io.

in new pictures Captured by NASA's Juno spacecraft, fiery volcanic activity has been captured erupting across Jupiter's moon Io.

Io is the third largest of Jupiter's four Galilean moons, and is the most volcanically active celestial body in our solar system, with nearly 400 active volcanoes. According to the agency.

Marking the second flyby of Jupiter's blazing moon in the past 22 years, NASA's probe approached within about 930 miles of Io and captured two volcanic plumes shooting into space from the moon's surface.

The first approach to Juno took place last year on December 30.

Highly detailed images of Io, taken by Juno on February 3, show the moon partially illuminated against the pitch-black background of space.

“The second pass passed mostly over Io's southern hemisphere, while previous flybys were over the north,” NASA said in a report. Press release on Wednesday. “There is a lot to see in these images,” the agency noted, explaining: “There is evidence of an active plume, towering mountain peaks with well-defined shadows, and lava lakes – some with clear islands.”

Io's exact composition is still unknown to researchers, however, NASA believes that the moon most likely consists of molten sulfur or silicate rocks while its atmosphere is mainly composed of carbon dioxide.

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While Io's surface shows a hotbed of volcanic activity in images, what scientists don't yet know is how the moon's “volcanic engine” works and whether the moon has a “global magma ocean” bubbling beneath its hardened exterior.

“The double flyby is designed to provide new insight into how Io's volcanic engine works and whether there is a global magma ocean beneath Io's rocky surface,” NASA said in a post on the X website.

Io is the innermost celestial body among Jupiter's four massive moons, and scientists believe its gravitational position lends itself to its strong volcanic activity.

“Io is caught in a tug-of-war between Jupiter’s strong gravity and smaller clouds from two neighboring moons, causing turbulence in its interior and creating eruptions and lakes of lava covering its surface,” NASA said.

Jupiter's four Galilean moons were discovered by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610.

NASA's Juno spacecraft blasted off from Earth in 2011 and entered Jupiter's orbit in 2016. The spacecraft's mission was initially completed in 2021, however, NASA extended the mission until September 2025 to continue exploring the planet's moons.