NASA Spacecraft Captures Stunning New Images of Jupiter’s ‘Lava Lakes’

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 27, 2024

NASA’s Juno spacecraft, orbiting Jupiter since 2016, has captured breathtaking new images of the planet and its moons.

This billion-dollar mission has provided unprecedented insights into the Jovian system, including stunning visuals of Jupiter’s “lava lakes.”

Juno's Latest Flyby

On June 14, Juno completed its 62nd close flyby of Jupiter, sending back incredible images.

A photograph of the Juno spacecraft

Source: Wikimedia

Citizen Scientists and JunoCam

Juno’s mission uniquely involves citizen scientists who process raw images from JunoCam.

Artist’s depiction of a space probe traveling through our galaxy

Source: Wikimedia

This collaborative approach has led to vibrant, detailed visuals shared globally.

The Volcanic Activity on Io

One of the most exciting images shows a sulfurous plume on Io, reaching hundreds of miles into space.

Lava from a volcanic eruption in Iceland

Source: Toby Elliott/Unsplash

This volcanic moon experiences intense gravitational interactions, driving its continuous eruptions.

Io’s Lava Lakes

Io, the most volcanic body in the solar system, boasts numerous lava lakes.

Image of Io, Jupiter's moon

Source: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona/Wikimedia Commons

These lakes are caused by frictional heat from gravitational forces, making Io a fascinating subject for scientists.

Juno’s Scientific Instruments

Juno carries 11 science instruments to study Jupiter and its moons.

A satellite in space hovering above the earth.

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

These tools have revealed massive storms, a chaotic magnetic field, and deep atmospheric bands, enhancing our understanding of the gas giant.


Discoveries About Jupiter’s Core

Juno’s data suggests that Jupiter’s core is actually larger than previously thought.

A photograph of the gas-giant Jupiter taken by a space telescope

Source: Wikimedia

This finding has significant implications for our knowledge of the planet’s formation and structure.


Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto

Juno has captured stunning images of Jupiter’s moons Europa and Ganymede.

An artist's depiction of outer space

Source: Wikimedia

However, its orbit has limited close encounters with Callisto, which will be explored in future missions.


Future Missions to Jupiter’s Moons

NASA’s Europa Clipper and the European Space Agency’s JUICE mission are set to explore Jupiter’s moons in the early 2030s.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA's SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts

Source: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images

These missions will provide more detailed studies of Europa and Callisto, continuing Juno’s legacy.


Juno’s Upcoming Perijove

Juno’s next close flyby, or perijove, is scheduled for July 17.

A satellite dish seen underneath a cloudy blue sky in the daytime.

Source: Chris DeRoin/Unsplash

Each perijove offers a unique opportunity to gather more data and images from Jupiter and its moons.


The End of Juno’s Mission

Juno’s mission will conclude on September 15, 2025, with a planned “death dive” into Jupiter.

A satellite hovering above the earth.

Source: SpaceX/Pexels

This maneuver will prevent contamination of the planet’s moons, preserving them for future study.


The Legacy of Juno

As Juno’s mission nears its end, the wealth of data and images it has provided will continue to inform and inspire.

NASA satellite orbiting planet Earth

Source: NASA

The spacecraft’s contributions have significantly advanced our understanding of Jupiter and its dynamic system.