Europa is one of the 80 confirmed moons that orbit Jupiter, and it also represents a major point of interest for astronomers. That’s because the surface of the moon mostly consists of water ice, and there are even high chances that an ocean of liquid water dwells beneath.
The presence of liquid water automatically means potential for sustaining life. No life as we know it is able to survive without water in liquid form. Thanks to a recent mission of NASA, humanity got its closest view of Europa in a few decades.
NASA’s Juno mission takes a close look at the Europa moon
Yesterday morning (September 29), the guys from NASA were curious enough to send the Juno spacecraft for a close flyby (less than 219 miles away from the surface) towards Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The outcome was the closest look astronomers had at the moon in 20 years, as ScienceAlert reveals.
Behold! Our closest view of Jupiter's ocean moon Europa in 22 years https://t.co/AMvaCrU2bh pic.twitter.com/4Z6fW8j80N
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) September 30, 2022
This is the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, as seen – today – by our #JunoMission spacecraft from a distance of about 219 miles (352 kilometers). Click to see the full view! It shows a region near the moon’s equator called Annwn Regio. Learn more: https://t.co/0v96Hbw04U pic.twitter.com/OZhO5B4GW4
— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) September 29, 2022
RT @LMSpace: Check out this view. 🤩
This image was captured as the #Juno spacecraft approached Europa this morning, providing a detailed look at Jupiter’s icy moon from approximately 1,500km above the surface. pic.twitter.com/HEeKy8EJyW@Lockheedmartin
— Rich Roberts 🇺🇸 (@FiremanRich) September 30, 2022
Candy Hansen, a co-investigator at Juno, said during a press release.
The science team will be comparing the full set of images obtained by Juno with images from previous missions, looking to see if Europa’s surface features have changed over the past two decades,
The JunoCam images will fill in the current geologic map, replacing existing low-resolution coverage of the area.
The Europa moon has an equatorial diameter of 1,940 miles, making it almost the same size as our own Moon. However, the moon of Jupiter is about 90% smaller, although it still qualifies as the sixth-largest moon in our Solar System.
There’s no wonder why Jupiter has so many moons compared to Earth. The gas giant is incredibly huge – so huge that 1,300 planets the size of Earth would fit inside of it.
The Juno mission was launched over a decade ago to study Jupiter, the biggest planet in our Solar System – in 2011, to be more precise.