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NASA's Juno Reveals Stunning Features On Jupiter's Moon Io

This image provided by NASA, processed by Kevin M. Gill, shows Jupiter's moon Europa captured by the Juno spacecraft on Sept. 29, 2022, with north to the left. Research published Monday, March 4, 2024

Recent close flybys of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, by NASA’s Juno spacecraft have unveiled fascinating features on the moon's surface. Io is known as the most volcanically active world in our solar system.

In December and February, Juno flew within approximately 930 miles of Io's surface, capturing detailed images of the moon's northern latitudes. These close encounters provided the first high-resolution images of Io in over two decades.

The spacecraft's camera, JunoCam, captured stunning visuals of active volcanic plumes, mountain peaks, and a remarkable lava lake. Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator, described Io as being 'simply littered with volcanoes,' with some captured in action during the flybys.

One of the standout features observed was a 127-mile-long lava lake known as Loki Patera. The images revealed intricate details of islands within the lake, surrounded by hot lava, giving the appearance of a glass-smooth surface similar to obsidian glass on Earth.

These groundbreaking findings were presented by Bolton at the European Geophysical Union General Assembly in Vienna on April 16. The data collected is enhancing our understanding of Io, a moon that has fascinated scientists for centuries.

Bolton highlighted that Io, apart from Earth, is the only place in our solar system where active magma volcanoes are observed. The discoveries made during these close flybys are shedding new light on the geological processes at play on Io's alien surface.

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