The latest JunoCam photographs of Jupiter’s frozen moon have been analysed by science enthusiasts, and the results are extraordinary.
Unique viewpoints of the recent near flyby of Jupiter’s frozen moon Europa by NASA’s Juno spacecraft have been supplied by citizen scientists. The public has produced deep-space photos of the Jovian moon through the editing of raw images from JunoCam, the spacecraft’s public-engagement camera, that are not only breathtaking but also deserving of further scientific investigation.
According to Scott Bolton, principle investigator on Juno at the Southwest Research Center in San Antonio, “Juno citizen scientists have been crucial in processing the multiple photographs we acquire with Juno starting with our flyby of Earth back in 2013.” “Their work offers a perspective that draws from both science and art throughout each pass of Jupiter, and now its moons. They play a key role in our team, paving the path by making innovative discoveries using our photographs. These most recent photographs from Europa show us surface features that provide information on Europa’s operation and what might be hiding both above and below the ice.
On September 29, the JunoCam took four pictures of Europa. Here is a thorough look:
Europa Close Up
Over the Annwn Regio region of the moon, at a height of 945 miles (1,521 kilometres), JunoCam captured its closest photograph (seen above). The image shows a harsh landscape with holes and troughs next to the day-night divide. The moon’s shattered surface is dotted with numerous brilliant and dark ridges and bands, which show the tectonic stresses that the moon has undergone over millions of years. Callanish Crater is the oblong black structure on the lower right.
These JunoCam photographs assist in completing the maps created using images from NASA’s Voyager and Galileo missions. Björn Jónsson, a citizen scientist, enhanced the image’s colour and contrast. A pixel has a resolution of roughly 0.6 miles (1 km).
The JunoCam photos that citizen scientists analyse frequently merge the fields of science and art. Greater colour contrast in the image at right, which Navaneeth Krishnan processed, makes larger surface features stand out more than in the image’s little processed counterpart (left). The results may be seen in the improved image’s lower right corner, where a small block and the pits create pronounced shadows. The image immerses us further into Europa’s alien landscape, however small-scale texturing of the surface needs to be carefully analysed to distinguish between features and processing errors.
Candy Hansen, principal co-investigator for the JunoCam camera at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, stated that “Juno’s citizen scientists are part of a global united effort, which leads to both fresh viewpoints and new insights.” We encourage citizen scientists’ creativity. “Many times, citizen scientists will completely ignore the potential scientific implications of a photograph and focus instead on how Juno captures their imagination or artistic sensibility.
Fernando Garcia Navarro, a citizen scientist, used his artistic skills to produce this picture. Kevin M. Gill, a fellow citizen scientist, had previously worked on an image that he downloaded and edited, resulting in a psychedelic rendition he has dubbed “Fall Colors of Europa.”
The altered image reminds one of a NASA billboard commemorating Juno’s orbital entrance at Jupiter five years ago in 2021.
More Cool Information About the Flyby
The Juno spacecraft only had a few minutes to gather data and photographs during its near flyby of Europa because of its relative velocity, which was only approximately 14.7 miles per second (23.6 kilometres per second). As intended, Juno’s trajectory was altered by the moon’s gravitational pull, which shortened its orbital period from 43 to 38 days. During Juno’s prolonged mission, the near approach also represents the second meeting with a Galilean moon. In June 2021, the mission studied Ganymede, and in 2023 and 2024, it is planned to conduct close flybys of Io, the solar system’s most volcanically active body.
Future missions to the Jovian moon will benefit from Juno’s investigations of Europa’s geology, which will help advance our understanding of the moon. The primary scientific objective of NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2024, is to ascertain whether there are any potential habitats for life beneath Europa’s surface.
Details of the Mission
The Juno mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio’s principal investigator, Scott J. Bolton. Caltech is a part of NASA and is located in Pasadena, California. Juno is a component of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, which is run by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The spacecraft was created by and is managed by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver.
The public can see and convert the raw photos from JunoCam into image products at: