Skip to main content

NASA spacecraft snaps gorgeous new photo of Jupiter's moons Io and Europa

Taken during Juno's 39th close flyby of Jupiter on Jan. 12, 2022, this stunning view captures two of the planet's moons: Io (left) and Europa (right).
Taken during Juno's 39th close flyby of Jupiter on Jan. 12, 2022, this stunning view captures two of the planet's moons: Io (left) and Europa (right). (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/processing by AndreaLuck CC BY)

NASA's Juno spacecraft beamed back stunning new photos of Jupiter's moons (opens in new tab), Io and Europa. 

Juno's latest view of the two moons was captured during the spacecraft's 39th close flyby of Jupiter (opens in new tab) on Jan. 12. At the time, the spacecraft was about 38,000 miles (61,000 kilometers) above Jupiter's cloud tops, at a latitude of about 52 degrees south. 

The new photo, which NASA shared on March 16 (opens in new tab), offers a stunning view of Jupiter's southern hemisphere, with two of its many moons to the right of the frame. A zoomed in view that the agency also shared brings the moons into clear view, with Io on the left and Europa on the right. 

Related: Jupiter's largest moon revealed in stunning detail in first close-up images in 20 years

Jupiter's moon Io (opens in new tab) is the most volcanic body in the solar system. Hundreds of volcanoes dot its surface, some of them spewing sulfurous plumes hundreds of miles high. 

Conversely, Europa (opens in new tab), the smallest of Jupiter's four giant Galilean moons, has an icy surface, beneath which lies a global ocean of liquid water, scientists believe. Previous observations have found evidence of possible water plumes jetting from the Europa's south polar region, suggesting that there is water in the moon's subsurface ocean breaking out through cracks in the icy crust.

The Juno spacecraft is expected to make its closest fly-by (opens in new tab) of Europa later this year, in September. During this fly-by, the probe will use several of its scientific instruments to study Europa in greater detail and capture even more stunning views of the mysterious moon.

The full view of Jupiter, Io and Europa captured by the Juno spacecraft on Jan. 12, 2022.

The full view of Jupiter, Io and Europa captured by the Juno spacecraft on Jan. 12, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/processing by AndreaLuck CC BY)

The Juno mission will also make close approaches to lo in late 2023 and early 2024, according to the NASA statement. The mission is currently expected to end in September 2025.

Two key spacecraft will soon follow in Juno's wake designed to focus exclusively on understanding the giant's moons: NASA's Europa Clipper mission and the European Space Agency's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE).

The new Jupiter photo was processed by citizen scientist Andrea Luck, using raw data from the JunoCam instrument. JunoCam's raw images are available online (opens in new tab) to the public; members of the community can also suggest features on Jupiter for the camera to photograph.

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) and on Facebook (opens in new tab).

Samantha Mathewson