The Juno mission has been exploring the Jovian system (Jupiter and its moons) since 2016.
The Juno mission has been exploring the Jovian system since 2016 when it entered a polar orbit around the gas giant. The spacecraft’s goals are to study Jupiter’s composition, investigate its gravitational field and magnetic field and find out more about its solar magnetosphere. But in addition to that, Juno will also study its moons. And as it does all that, it provides us with stunning photographs of what the spacecraft sees as it swirls around the gas giant. NASA’s Juno mission flew by Jupiter for its 38th close flyby on Nov. 29, 2021. With its JunoCam instrument, the spacecraft captured these images of Jupiter’s largest moons as it speeded low over its cloud tops. The planet’s north polar region is seen ominated by hurricane-like spiral wind patterns called vortices.
The height of these powerful storms can reach over 30 miles (50 kilometers), and their diameter can be hundreds of miles wide. Callisto and Io appear below Jupiter’s curving horizon.
Io and Juno
Io will be closely inspected by Juno in December 2023 and February 2024, marking the first close encounter between the probe and the moon in more than two decades. In our solar system, Io is the most volcanically active body. As a result of its eruptions, a trail of gas and dust surrounds Jupiter and fills its magnetosphere. A flyby will allow Juno to examine Io’s volcanoes and geology. The spacecraft will look for signs of a magma ocean and study the interaction between Io and Jupiter’s magnetosphere.
A citizen scientist, Gerald Eichstädt, made the original version of this image using JunoCam data. Another citizen scientist, Thomas Thomopoulos, made further adjustments with zoom and color. North is down in this view. This image was taken by Juno as it traveled at about 123,000 mph (198,000 kilometers per hour) relative to Jupiter at about 8,700 miles (14,000 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops.