NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Snaps A Spectacular Closeup Of A Moon With Erupting Volcanoes

hero nasa juno moon lo closeup
Great balls of fire, NASA’s Juno spacecraft snapped a closeup image of Jupiter’s moon lo that showed an erupting volcano. Juno has performed more than 55 flybys of Jupiter, as well as the closest flyby of the giant planet’s moon lo in over 20 years.

NASA says that Jupiter’s moon lo is the most volcanically active world in the entire solar system, teeming with hundreds of volcanoes. Some volcanoes on lo spit lava fountains dozens of miles high. The space agency adds that lo’s volcanoes are at times so powerful that they can be seen with large telescopes on Earth. The image below taken by Juno on October 15, 2023, shows a plume of material ejected from the unseen volcano Prometheus.

nasa juno moon lo volcano
Indicated by the red arrow, the plume is just visible in the darkness below the terminator line.

“By combining data from this flyby (on December 30, 2023) with our previous observations, the Juno science team is studying how lo’s volcanoes vary,” explained Juno’s principal investigator, Scott Bolton. “We are looking for how often they erupt, how bright and hot they are, how the shape of lava flow changes, and how lo’s activity is connected to the flow of charged particles in Jupiter’s magnetosphere.”

To date, the spacecraft has been monitoring volcanic activity from distances ranging from about 6,830 miles to over 62,100 miles. Juno has also captured the first images of the moon’s north and south poles, and performed close flybys of Jupiter’s icy moons Ganymede and Europa. The spacecraft made another close flyby on February 3, coming within about 930 miles of the moon’s surface.

“With our pair of close flybys in December and February, Juno will investigate the source of lo’s massive volcanic activity, whether a magma ocean exists underneath the crust, and importance of tidal forces from Jupiter, which are relentlessly squeezing this tortured moon,” remarked Bolton.

NASA has not yet shared any new images of Jupiter’s moon lo from its most recent flyby. However, beginning in April of this year, Juno will carry out a series of occultation experiments that use Juno’s Gravity Science experiment to probe Jupiter’s upper atmospheric makeup.
Tags:  space, NASA, Jupiter, Juno, volcano, lo