NASA publishes an epic portrait of Jupiter and Io

NASA has published a new space portrait taken by the Juno probe. It demonstrates Jupiter and its volcanic moon Io.

Io and Jupiter. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Alain Mirón Velázquez © CC BY

The photo was taken on July 30, 2023, when Juno was preparing for a rendezvous with Io. At the time of photographing, the spacecraft was located at a distance of 52 thousand km from the moon and 395 thousand km from Jupiter. The next day, Juno approached Io by 22 thousand kilometers. This was the closest visit of the Earth messenger to this moon since 2007, and NASA used this opportunity to gather more information about this amazing body.

Io is very different from other moons of the planets. There are practically no impact craters on its surface, and it has an extremely unusual color. There you can find shades of white, red, black, green and yellow. Such a motley color scheme, because of which the moon is sometimes compared to pizza, is explained by the consequences of constant eruptions.

The fact is that Io is the most volcanically active world in the Solar System. There are hundreds of active volcanoes on the surface of this moon that continuously erupt, modifying its landscape. The length of their lava flows can reach hundreds of kilometers. Also, there are whole lakes on Io filled with molten sulfur. Emissions from constant eruptions covered the surface of Io with numerous sulfur compounds and silicates, which gave it a very unusual color.

Already at the end of December this year, Juno will get closer to Io again. This time the spacecraft will fly at an altitude of only a few hundred kilometers from its surface, which will allow scientists to collect additional data about this unique world and take even more spectacular pictures.

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