Juno, the space probe in charge of studying Jupiter, has a new destiny. Soon, the ship will head to Europa, one of the most popular moons of the gas giant, and whose icy crust contains elements that could be key to the existence of life. For this reason, NASA has detailed the plans to follow for its study, and Juno promises to capture images of the satellite like never before.
Despite its popularity, The moon Europa has not been the protagonist of photos for decades. On September 29, however, that is about to change. According to NASA’s plans, Juno will approach the satellite on the scheduled day, and will proceed to take screenshots of its surface, although emphasizing certain regions that are striking to researchers.
But a pretty face is not the only thing Europe has to offer. According to scientists who have studied it for decades, “a salty ocean lies beneath the surface of its kilometric layer of ice“Comments NASA in the statement. This could make the satellite one of the regions of the Solar System best prepared to harbor life under its surface.
Juno’s Voyage: From Jupiter to Europe
To reach Europe, Juno will have to make the journey of just over three and a half days that separates the two bodies (670,900 kilometers), although it is expected to arrive sooner thanks to its speed of 23.6 kilometers per second. The spacecraft will settle about 358 kilometers from the surface of the satelliteplace from which it will take the new images in a resolution in which it had never been captured before.
Juno, on the other hand, isn’t just geared up to take stunning photos. The rest of the probe’s instruments will also be ready, so to be able to study the composition and temperature of the icy cover of Europa. Likewise, it will also have the task of studying more about the ionosphere of the moon, a very important part of its atmosphere.
This data collection will begin before the photo session. Specifically when Juno is about 83,397 kilometers of Jupiter’s natural satellite.
“Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) will go deep into Europa’s icy crust, obtaining data on its composition and temperature. This is the first time that such data has been collected to study the icy crust of the moon.”
The probe reached Jupiter in 2016, earning a mission extension in 2021. Since then, has been preparing to study the rings of this gas giant, and also its largest moons. In fact, he has already studied Ganymede, and Europe will be his next destination.
Secondly, This will be the first time a spacecraft has come so close to the satellite since 2000., when the Galileo probe came to be about 351 kilometers from its surface. However, although Juno will be at a slightly greater distance, the quality of the latter’s cameras is vastly superior to those that Galileo carried with him at the beginning of the millennium.