NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured a view of Jupiter during its fortieth passage near the giant planet on February 25, 2022.
The image shows a large, dark shadow on the left side of it cast by Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede.
Juno’s mission flew close to the radiation-emitting planet for the 40th time on February 25, with the initial images from the encounter being sent back to Earth.
Here, citizen scientist Thomas Thumopoulos created this enhanced color image using raw data from the JunoCam tool.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS, Image processing by Brian Swift © CC BY
NASA said Juno was flying 44,000 miles (71,000 km) above the tops of Jupiter’s cloud during the encounter, which is nearly 15 times closer than Ganymede’s orbital distance of 666,000 miles (1.1 million km).
And NASA indicated that if an observer managed to challenge the radiation within the oval shape seen in the image, this person would face a total solar eclipse. The agency added that “total eclipses are more common on Jupiter than on Earth, explaining that the planet hosts four large moons (Ganymede, Io, Europa and Callisto) that revolve around Jupiter more than our single moon.
The agency said that the JunoCam instrument “captured this image very close to Jupiter, which makes Ganymede’s shadow look especially large.”
The Juno spacecraft is on a long-term mission to understand the weather and dynamics of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Studying this planet closely also allows scientists to learn about how large exoplanets in other solar systems behave.
NASA warned that Juno is still “in good health” amid an extended mission, but will have a limited lifespan due to the amount of radiation it encounters. But astronomers are preparing big plans for the icy moons of Jupiter in the 1930s.
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