NASA’s Juno mission reveals strange image of Europa’s surface

At first glance, you might think you’re looking at a microscope slide rather than an image of an ice-covered world. In reality, however, this view covers 93 miles (150 km) by 125 miles (200 km) of Europe’s frozen landscape, including long, hilly tracks protruding from the surface and a comma-shaped blob of water ice. to the southeast extending about 42 miles. (67 km) by 23 miles (37 km). The white spots, reminiscent of snowflakes, are signatures of high-energy particles resulting from the extreme radiation surrounding the moon. And the dark areas (top right, center right, and bottom left) could be an indication of activity beneath the crust erupting on the surface.

Europa is one of the worlds in our solar system that scientists say harbors a salty ocean miles beneath its icy shell. “This image reveals an incredible level of detail in a region that has not previously been imaged at such high resolution and under such revealing lighting conditions,” said SRU co-principal investigator Heidi Becker in the Press release. “These features are so intriguing. Understanding how they formed – and how they connect to the history of Europe – tells us about the internal and external processes that shape the ice crust.

The photo was taken using Juno’s Stellar Reference Unit (SRU), the camera used to orient the spacecraft. SRU performs well in low light conditions, capturing surface details in greater detail. JunoCam, the spacecraft’s public engagement camera, also took four images of Europa during the flyby. These are processed by citizen scientists.

The Juno mission mainly studies Jupiter, but during its 45 trips around the planet since 2011, it has also taken pictures of Jupiter’s rings and Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system. Juno plans to debut on Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system, in 2023.

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