The first close-up shot in over 20 years of one of Jupiter's most fascinating moons, Europa, was sent ashore by NASA's Juno spacecraft, just hours after the September 29 close flyby that brought it just 352 kilometers away. from the celestial body.
The Juno spacecraft had just two hours to collect data as it sped near the surface of Europa at a relative speed of about 23.6 kilometers per second.
"It's still too early to tell, but all the evidence points to the close shift being a great success," says Scott Bolton, Juno's chief scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.
"This image is just a glimpse of the amazing new science that will come from Juno's entire suite of instruments and sensors."
During the flyby, the spacecraft took several very high resolution (1 kilometer per pixel) images of Jupiter's moon, capturing the details of its wrinkled icy 'skin' as well as valuable information on its composition and interaction with Jupiter's magnetosphere. .
The images will be compared with those of previous missions (Voyager 2 and Galileo) to verify if the surface of Europa has changed in the last decades.
"The images taken with the JunoCam will allow us to complete the current geological map, replacing the old low-resolution images," says Candy Hansen of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona.
These data and those collected from previous missions will be particularly useful for Clipper, the next NASA mission destined to arrive on Europe in 2030 to study its atmosphere, surface, internal structure and habitability.