Stunning images of Jupiter’s volcanic moon have been released by NASA.
The space agency has had the Juno spacecraft orbiting the giant planet since 2016 and is now moving close to some of Jupiter’s incredible moons.
In its most recent flyby, Juno moved to just 7,000 miles away from Io, the closest since NASA’s Galileo probe imaged the volcanic moon in October 2001.
The spacecraft then used its two-megapixel cameras to capture the images of Jupiter and Io in the same shot.
Io is known as the most volcanic world in the solar system because the moon regularly sees huge eruptions much bigger than anything ever seen on Earth.
Expert Jason Perry says that Juno observed two volcanic eruptions on the moon.
These eruptions are caused by frictional tidal heating due to the gravitational pull of Jupiter.
Other large moons such as Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto create immense heat as Io orbits Jupiter.
The impressive images were sent back to NASA’s Deep Space Network and looked into by scientists.
In December, Juno will move to within 1,000 miles of Io’s surface, meaning images will be taken at an even closer range.
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Juno’s next perijove, its 56th, will take place on November 22, according to the mission’s website.
Scott Bolton, the Juno mission’s principal investigator, told Mashable earlier this year: “We’re marching closer and closer.”
NASA added in a statement: “Not only is the biggest planet in the solar system forever pulling at it gravitationally, but so are Io’s Galilean siblings — Europa and the biggest moon in the solar system, Ganymede.
“The result is that Io is continuously stretched and squeezed, actions linked to the creation of the lava seen erupting from its many volcanoes.”
“Europa may be the most promising place in our solar system to find present-day environments suitable for some form of life beyond Earth.
“NASA’s Europa Clipper will conduct detailed reconnaissance of Jupiter’s moon Europa and investigate whether the icy moon could harbor conditions suitable for life.”
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