After sending back images from its flyby of Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, NASA's Juno spacecraft did the same for another of the planet's moons.
The early results do not go down well.
According to NASA, this is the surface of Jupiter's moon, as seen by the Juno Mission on Thursday.
📸 Witness Europa in unprecedented detail!
Today, @NASASolarSystem’s #JunoMission captured the highest resolution images taken of Jupiter’s moon in decades, as well as collected data on its interior, surface composition, & ionosphere. Here’s what we saw: https://t.co/h8fYr1qBcZ pic.twitter.com/eDDVyVw0nw
— NASA Astrobiology: Exploring Life in the Universe (@NASAAstrobio) September 29, 2022
There are surface features near the moon's equator in the larger version of the image.
Earth's moon is larger than the sixth- largest moon in the solar system. Scientists think a salty ocean could be found beneath an ice sheet a mile thick, raising the possibility of life on the island.
The image is the first close-up of the moon in more than two decades, and it is the best one to date.
It was captured by Juno at a rate of around 14.7% per second.
The rugged terrain features are easily seen due to the enhanced contrast between light and shadow seen along the terminator.
NASA scientists can expect to hear more about the data from the flyby in the coming weeks. There will be more images like the one above in the near future.
Scott Bolton, principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, said that the flyby was a success. The first picture is a glimpse of the remarkable new science to come from the entire suite of instruments and sensors that acquired data as we skimmed over the moon's icy surface.
Five years after it was launched from Earth, Jupiter was reached. One of the main goals of the mission is to confirm whether or not Jupiter's icy moon has the conditions to support life.
There is a recommended video.