November 28, 2022

NASA has launched a number of spacecraft to explore the universe’s furthest regions. One of NASA’s most important missions is about to occur as the Juno spacecraft makes a close approach to Europa, one of Jupiter’s 80 moons.

Juno spacecraft prepares for close encounter with icy moon Europa | New  Scientist

Launched on August 5, 2011, Juno took nearly five years to reach Jupiter. It will now probe the aforementioned celestial object to collect information on the moon’s interior, surface composition, and ionosphere. Taking high-resolution pictures of the well-known ice-covered moon is another duty for the Juno spacecraft.

NASA believes that “Scientists suspect a salty ocean exists behind a miles-thick ice crust, generating worries about potential conditions capable of supporting life underneath Europa’s surface,” which makes the information they will recover extremely crucial, as reported in an article by CNET.

An hour before they arrive at Europa, which is 51,820 miles (83,397 kilometres) away, NASA will begin gathering data.

According to John Bordi, the space probe will be travelling at a speed of 14.7 miles per second (23.6 kilometres per second) in relation to the moon.

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What Kind of Information Will Juno Gather?

NASA is interested in learning more about Europa’s interactions with the gas giant’s magnetosphere, among other things.

Europa is just a little bit smaller, or more precisely, 90% of the size of our moon, with an equatorial diameter of 1,940 miles (3,100 kilometres). Scientists think that underneath the extraordinary thickness of its ice cover is a saltwater ocean.

With that conviction, these researchers hypothesised that Europa’s interior may have the capacity for supporting life.

Juno’s Jupiter Energetic-Particle Detector Instrument (JEDI) and medium-gain (X-band) radio antenna will gather data on Europa’s ionosphere as it analyses plasma in the moon’s wake with its Waves, Jovian Auroral Distributions Experiment (JADE), and Magnetometer instruments (MAG).

According to NASA’s official website, Bolton states, “We have the proper technology to accomplish the job, but to catch a plume will take a lot of luck.”

Diving Into Europa

Future missions and the agency’s Europa Clippers may benefit from the data that Juno collects. which is scheduled to debut in 2024.

The Southwest Research Institute’s Scott Bolton, the principal investigator for the Juno mission, stated that they would be pleased to offer data to the Europa Clipper team to aid in mission planning and to yield fresh scientific revelations.

NASA will be able to examine the ice crust of Europa and collect information on its composition and temperature thanks to Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR). To find out whether anything has changed in the last twenty years, they will compare the photographs they collect with those from earlier expeditions.

While attempting to capture infrared photographs of the surface of the ice moon Europa using the space probe’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper, the star camera (also known as the Stellar Reference Unit) will capture a high-resolution black-and-white image of Europa’s surface (JIRAM).

 

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