Juno just took some of the best and clearest pictures of Io yet: ScienceAlert

On March 1, 2023, NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew by Jupiter’s moon Io, coming within 51,500 km (32,030 miles) of the innermost and third-largest of the four Galilean moons.

The stunning new images provide the best and closest view of the most volcanic moon in our solar system since the New Horizons mission flew past Io and the Jupiter system in 2006 on its way to Pluto.

Cleary, Io still looks like a pizza. The mottled and colorful surface comes from the volcanic activity, with hundreds of vents and calderas on the surface creating a variety of features.

Volcanic plumes and lava flows across the surface appear in all sorts of colors, from red and yellow to orange and black. Some of the lava “rivers” stretch for hundreds of kilometers.

In its extended mission, Juno has now orbited Jupiter 49 times, and is on its way to study several of Jupiter’s moons.

This latest flyby of Io was the third of nine flybys of the volcanic moon over the next year, with the first in December 2022.

An upcoming flyby next year on February 3, 2024 will come as close as 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from Io.

Jason Perry, an Io observation expert who has worked with the Cassini, Galileo and HiRISE imaging teams said on Twitter that his first look at these images shows some subtle changes from the New Horizons images.

“Surface changes are quite subtle, but there are at least two,” Perry wrote. “The first is a small flow from the eastern end of East Girru. This is a (volcanic) hotspot first seen by New Horizons in the middle of a mini-eruption. Still active according to Juno JIRAM.”

The Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) is a dual instrument consisting of an imaging camera and a spectrometer sharing the same telescope.

Perry said other data shows a blush of Chors Patera, a bowl-shaped volcanic crater. “Red material on Io indicates the presence of S3-S4, short-chain sulfur that must be refreshed regularly through active high-temperature volcanism,” he explained.

JunoCam is a high-resolution visible-light instrument that is not actually part of the spacecraft’s primary science payload.

It was included in the mission as a public outreach camera, and its images are processed by members of the public, many of whom have been actively processing Juno’s images since it reached Jupiter in 2016.

But with the abundance of JunoCam images, it appears that the images have also been used for science.

Pictures here are from Good luck Andrea, Kevin M. Gill an.d Jason Perry.

Juno’s next encounter with Io will be during Perijove 51 on May 16, 2023 at a distance of 35,000 kilometers.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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