Also coming up next week, but with much less fanfare than the DART mission, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will make a close flyby of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The pass will happen on Thursday, September 29, at 10:36 UTC during perijove 45, or the 45th orbit of Jupiter. The closest approach to Europa will be about 358 kilometers, about as close as Galileo flew back in 2000. Deputy mission manager John Bordi notes: The relative velocity between spacecraft and moon will be 23.6 kilometers per second, so we are screaming by pretty fast.
One of the goals of this pass, which is taking place as a part of Juno’s extended mission, is to collect high-resolution images of the moon and collect data about the surface, the interior, and the ionosphere. Europa is important in the search for life beyond Earth, as evidence shows that under the thick icy surface is a salty, warm liquid ocean… that has the potential to support life. Two of the instruments on board Juno are specifically tasked with searching for possible water plumes erupting from Europa’s surface.
We’re hoping the mission has the right amount of luck necessary to capture that data along with what we’re sure will be amazing images. As always, we’ll bring you the results as soon as they are available.
NASA JPL press release