What may be considered the first image of Europe’s north pole, Jupiter’s moon, was captured by NASA’s Juno probe, Juno researcher Scott Bolton said at a NASA-organized press conference Oct. 28, Space.com reported.
This is an area that hasn’t been imaged before, and it’s a very interesting area because it can offer a certain level of habitability in the ocean that can exist under the thick layer of surface ice.
The picture was taken from a distance
The image was taken from 80,000 kilometers (50,000 miles) away, while the Juno probe was on another stage of its mission. In fact, the probe was in the process of taking more pictures and obtaining more data about Jupiter’s atmosphere, so the image was taken from a distance. This is another reason why the resolution isn’t great: each pixel represents a small square 50-60 km apart. However, it is possible to discern a certain level of albedo (the level of light reflection) in this interesting region of Jupiter’s moon.
We will have better pictures soon
Next year, the probe will get closer to Europa and take even closer images, after which we will have more information, Mr. Bolton explained at the conference: This is just one small taste of what we will get next. This is just a taste of what lies ahead in the near future, as two more missions are planned, JUICE (JUpiter ICy) from the European Space Agency and Europa Clipper from NASA.
The conference focused on data obtained, via 3D images, from Jupiter’s atmosphere, particularly the region containing the massive storm known as the Great Red Spot.
Only the Juno spacecraft can take this picture
An image like that of Europe’s North Pole has never been taken before because all the other probes launched in the Jupiter system, as well as other telescopes on Earth orbiting Jupiter, are not located in one location to capture the North Pole. Meanwhile, Juno is in orbit around Jupiter providing a useful route for photographing Europa’s north pole as well.
The image was extrapolated from a large amount of data and images collected by the Juno probe by citizen scientist Andrea Lack, who used data collected by the JunoCam camera in particular.
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