NASA’s Juno detects a new volcano on Jupiter’s Moon Io

“The new Io hotspot JIRAM picked up is about 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the nearest previously mapped hotspot,” said Alessandro Mura, a Juno co-investigator from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome.

The Jovian moon system has been a fascinating field of study since it’s discovery. With at least 79 moons, it holds the record for being the biggest moon system as well as being the best candidate for astronomers to study the origin of our solar system. It consists of Ganymede(The biggest moon of the solar system, even bigger than Mercury and Pluto),  Io and many more. While Io was considered the most geologically active body of the solar system, it might just turn out to be even more active!

The team working with Nasa’s Juno spacecraft got the sight of a previously undiscovered volcano on Io while working with the data collected by the orbiter on 16 December 2017, when the spacecraft was about 290,000 miles (470,000 kilometers) away from the moon.

“With its Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM: a device fitted on Juno spacecraft designed to study the dynamics and chemistry in the atmosphere) instrument, the Juno spacecraft found a new heat source close to the south pole of Io”, NASA said on Saturday.

Due to the slightly elliptical orbit of Io and the tug of gravity applied by Jupiter and the other Galilean satellites, tides on the surface can rise up high as much as 300 feet(100 meters). The tides generated are strong enough to heat the Hot-barren surface of Io, generating enough heat to start off volcanic activity driven by Blistering silicate magma.

“The Juno team will continue to evaluate data collected on the December 16 flyby, as well as JIRAM data that will be collected during future (and even closer) flybys of Io”, Nasa said in a statement

Past observations with the Voyagers, Galileo, Cassini, New Horizons and some other ground-based telescope revealed around 150 active volcanoes on Io. Looks like Io wasn’t satisfied with its volcanoes so it gave us more. The question is, How many volcanoes are still there on that “Jovian Moon” still waiting to be discovered and what could we possibly learn from the future observations.

By the way, did you know that Juno was named after a Roman goddess who could “See through the clouds”? The craft’s name is exceptionally appropriate, given its task of sorting out what lies beneath Jupiter’s beautiful, swirling cloud tops.!!!

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