January 25, 2024 – 8:02 pm
NASA's Juno spacecraft flew by Jupiter's moon Europa in 2022, and after analyzing the data, researchers have now observed surface activity. Space.com writes. According to a study published in the journal JGR Planets, the observed region has changed compared to the conditions observed by the Galileo spacecraft in the period 1995-2003.
Juno's Stellar Reference Unit (SRU) is a camera designed to locate Juno on board the spacecraft, and has also been used to take high-resolution images of Europa's surface. The image we just analyzed shows a 37 x 67 km area of the surface filled with blocks of ice, each about a kilometer across, casting shadows on the surface. From their analysis, the researchers noticed that the surface had changed.
The 2022 image also shows low-albedo sediments that could be linked to subsurface liquid water, researchers say. These dark spots may represent plumes that are thought to be spewing water.
Although the results are not conclusive, the region could be a good target for NASA's future Europa Clipper spacecraft and the European Space Agency's JUICE, which will also study Europa's surface activity.