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NASA Juno Data Indicate Another Possible Volcano on Jupiter Moon Io

Juno's 13th science pass will be on July 16, the US space agency said

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InSight catching rays on Mars: NASA. Pixabay
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Using data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, scientists have got clues to a previously undiscovered volcano on the Jupiter moon Io.

With its Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument, the Juno spacecraft found a new heat source close to the south pole of Io, NASA said on Saturday.

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

“We are not ruling out movement or modification of a previously discovered hot spot, but it is difficult to imagine one could travel such a distance and still be considered the same feature,” Mura added.

The infrared data were collected on December 16, 2017, when Juno was about 470,000 kilometers away from the moon.

Juno has logged nearly 235 million kilometres since entering Jupiter's orbit on July 4, 2016.
Juno has logged nearly 235 million kilometres since entering Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016. (IANS)

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.

Past NASA missions of exploration that have visited the Jovian system (Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini and New Horizons), along with ground-based observations, have located over 150 active volcanoes on Io so far.

Also Read: NASA Discovered Evidence of Life on Mars 40 Years Ago, Then Set It On Fire

Scientists estimate that about another 250 or so are waiting to be discovered.

Juno has logged nearly 235 million kilometres since entering Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016.

Juno’s 13th science pass will be on July 16, the US space agency said. (IANS)

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A Dozen New Moons Found Orbiting Jupiter

Twelve new moons orbiting Jupiter have been found -- 11 'normal' outer moons, and one that they're calling an 'oddball.'

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Jupiter
Astronomers Discovers 12 New Moons Orbiting Around Jupiter. (VOA)

Astronomers are still finding moons at Jupiter, 400 years after Galileo used his spyglass to spot the first ones.

The latest discovery of a dozen small moons brings the total to 79, the most of any planet in our solar system.

Scientists were looking for objects on the fringes of the solar system last year when they pointed their telescopes close to Jupiter’s backyard, according to Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington. They saw a new group of objects moving around the giant gas planet but didn’t know whether they were moons or asteroids passing near the planet.

“There was no eureka moment,” said Sheppard, who led the team of astronomers. “It took a year to figure out what these objects were.”

They all turned out to be moons of Jupiter. The confirmation of 10 was announced Tuesday. Two were confirmed earlier.

The moons had not been spotted before because they are tiny. They are about one to two kilometers across, said astronomer Gareth Williams of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center.

And he thinks Jupiter might have even more moons just as small waiting to be found.

“We just haven’t observed them enough,” said Williams, who helped confirm the moons’ orbits.

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12 New Moons Discovered Orbiting Jupiter. Pixabay

The team is calling one of the new moons an “oddball” because of its unusual orbit. Sheppard’s girlfriend came up with a name for it: Valetudo, the great-granddaughter of the Roman god Jupiter.

Valetudo is in Jupiter’s distant, outer swarm of moons that circles in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation. Yet it’s orbiting in the same direction as the planet, against the swarm’s traffic.

“This moon is going down the highway the wrong way,” Sheppard said.

Scientists believe moons like Valetudo and its siblings appeared soon after Jupiter formed. The planet must have acted like a vacuum, sucking up all the material that was around it. Some of that debris was captured as moons.

“What astonishes me about these moons is that they’re the remnants of what the planet formed from,” he said.

Telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and Arizona were used for the latest discovery and confirmation.

Also Read-NASA Probes Unveils Stormy Environment of Jupiter’s moon

Galileo detected Jupiter’s four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, in 1610. The latest count of 79 known moons includes eight that have not been seen for several years. Saturn is next with 61, followed by Uranus with 27 and Neptune with 14. Mars has two, Earth has one and Mercury and Venus have none. (VOA)