Juno prepares for a close flyby of Io

On May 16, the Juno spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter will make the closest flyby of the Io during its entire mission. The minimum approach distance will be 35.5 thousand km.

Io. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS Image processing: Kevin M. Gill (CC BY)

Io is the most volcanically active world in the Solar System. On its surface there are hundreds of active volcanoes that continuously erupt, modifying the landscape of the moon. The length of their lava flows can reach hundreds of kilometers. Also on Io there are whole lakes filled with molten sulfur.

The reason for such activity is tidal interactions. Both the gravity of Jupiter and its moons Europa and Ganymede contribute. It literally stretches and compresses the moon, that’s why its interior is in the state of a lava ocean.

Io. Red dots indicate foci of volcanic activity. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/ASI/INAF/JIRAM

Given all of the above, it is not surprising that scientists are trying to use every opportunity to learn more about Io. And one of them will be presented today. During the upcoming flyby, Juno will photograph the moon, study its volcanoes, as well as how emissions from constant volcanic eruptions interact with Jupiter’s magnetosphere and create auroras.

The upcoming flight will be a prelude to even more exciting events. In July and October 2023, Juno will visit Io again. These flights will change the orbit of the spacecraft, bringing it even closer to Io. The culmination will be two visits to the moon in December 2023 and February 2024, during which Juno will pass at a distance of only 1,500 km from its molten surface.

According to https://www.nasa.gov

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time