The NASA Juno spacecraft may have discovered a hidden volcano in Io, one of the 69 of moons of Jupiter, adding to the probe's already long list of contributions to science.
Juno has logged almost 235 million kilometers since it entered Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016. The space probe has taken amazing pictures, recorded breathtaking time-lapse photos, and made important discoveries on Jupiter and its moons.
Juno May Have Discovered Secret Volcano On Jupiter's Io
Data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper, or JIRAM, an instrument of NASA's Juno space probe revealed a previously undiscovered heat source near the south pole of the Jupiter moon Io.
The data was collected by Juno's JIRAM on Dec. 16 last year, when the space probe was about 290,000 miles away from Io.
The heat source may be another volcano, adding to the hundreds of volcanoes on Io. The Jupiter moon was described by NASA a few years ago as "the most volcanically active world in the solar system," some of which launch lava fountains reaching heights of up to 250 miles.
The possible new addition to the volcanoes on Io was discovered around 200 miles away from the nearest previously known hotspot. NASA has not ruled out that the heat source is a previously discovered that just moved, but the chances of that happening are not that high.
NASA is still analyzing the data that Juno collected during its previous flyby on Io, and is expecting more clues on the hidden volcano to arrive after the next Io flyby that is planned on July 16.
The upcoming Io flyby of the Juno space probe will be the 13th science pass on the moons of Jupiter and the planet itself. NASA recently extended the Juno mission until July 2021, so many more flybys will be planned to unlock the secrets of Jupiter and its system.
NASA Juno Discoveries And Photos
Juno, which launched in August 2011, has provided people back on Earth with never-before-seen images of the largest planet in the Solar System, including a time-lapse sequence of the blue south pole of Jupiter and the photos of Jupiter clouds that look like a Van Gogh painting.
The Juno mission is not all about taking pictures, however. NASA also recently revealed that using data collected by the spacecraft, scientists have discovered that Jupiter moons Io and Ganymede have been leaving strange marks on the planet's aurora. The reason behind the phenomenon is still unknown.