Juno captures stunning images of Jupiter’s moon Io during its second closest flyby

NASA’s Juno spacecraft made its second closest flyby of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io on Saturday, February 3, 2024, after its first closest flyby of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io on December 30, 2023.

Like the first flyby, the Juno spacecraft passed at a distance of about 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) from the surface of the most volcanic world in our solar system.

Juno spacecraft captured two volcanic plumes rising above Jupiter's moon Io during its second closest flyby
NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured two volcanic plumes rising above Jupiter’s moon Io during its second closest flyby on February 3, 2024, when the spacecraft was at an altitude of 3852 km from Io’s surface. It is either two vents from one giant volcano, or two volcanoes near each other. The team will be analyzing this against additional data from Juno and other missions to get a better understanding. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/AndreaLuck)

Overall, it is Juno’s 58th orbit around Jupiter, and after the 58th flyby, the gravitational pull of Io on Juno will reduce the spacecraft’s orbit around Jupiter from 35 days to 33 days, according to NASA.

Over the course of its 58 orbit around Jupiter, the spacecraft and its cameras have endured the most intense radiation environment in the solar system. Because planet Jupiter produces the most intense radiation in our solar system other than the sun, which is equivalent to 100 million X-rays. 

Juno spacecraft captured Jupiter's moon Io from an altitude of 9648 km
Juno spacecraft captured Jupiter’s moon Io from an altitude of 9648 km during its second closest flyby on February 3, 2024. (Image credit: NASA / SwRI / MSSS)

Io is the third-largest moon of the gas giant planet Jupiter after Ganymede and Callisto. It is the most volcanically active world in the solar system which contains hundreds of volcanoes.

“With our pair of close flybys in December and February, Juno will investigate the source of Io’s massive volcanic activity, whether a magma ocean exists underneath its crust, and the importance of tidal forces from Jupiter, which are relentlessly squeezing this tortured moon,” said Scott Bolton from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.

Juno captured Jupiter's moon Io with its largest volcanically active lava lake, Loki
Juno captured Jupiter’s moon Io with its largest volcanically active lava lake, Loki, during its second closest flyby on February 3, 2024. In fact, it is the largest lava lake in our solar system. (Image credit: NASA / SwRI / MSSS/ Andrew R Brown)

Juno is an orbiter-type spacecraft, which means it orbits Jupiter and collects scientific data. The spacecraft launched on August 5, 2011, arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2016, and completed its primary mission in July 2021. 

Currently, the spacecraft is on its extended mission, and it will continue its investigation of the solar system’s largest planet through September 2025, or until the spacecraft’s end of life.

More images of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io that Juno captured during its second closest flyby are available on the Juno mission website.

Visit here to see the current position of the Juno spacecraft around Jupiter.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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