The U.S. space agency NASA plans to take close-up photos of Jupiter's innermost moon, Io, during a mission Thursday, the first of nine close flybys around the most volcanic place in the solar system.
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Previous infrared images from NASA have captured Io's volcanic surface:
Its solar-powered Juno spacecraft also took an image of Jupiter’s northernmost cyclone:
NASA will use the exploration mission to "perform the first high-resolution monitoring campaign on the magma-encrusted moon," and learn more about how the moon's volcanoes interact with Jupiter's magnetic field.
NASA is in the second year of an extended mission to investigate the interior of Jupiter. Juno has performed close flybys of the Jupiter moons Ganymede and Europa in the last two years. While the spacecraft's sensors are designed to study Jupiter, they can also observe the planet's moons.
"The team is really excited to have Juno’s extended mission include the study of Jupiter’s moons. With each close flyby, we have been able to obtain a wealth of new information,” said Juno Principal Investigator Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in Texas.