Washington: Using data collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft, scientists have got clues to a previously undiscovered volcano on the Jupiter moon Io.
With its Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument, the Juno spacecraft found a new heat source close to the south pole of Io, NASA said on Saturday.
“The new Io hotspot JIRAM picked up is about 300 kilometres from the nearest previously mapped hotspot,” Alessandro Mura, a Juno co-investigator from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome, Italy, said in a statement.
“We are not ruling out movement or modification of a previously discovered hot spot, but it is difficult to imagine one could travel such a distance and still be considered the same feature,” Mura added.
The infrared data were collected on December 16, 2017, when Juno was about 470,000 kilometers away from the moon.
The Juno team will continue to evaluate data collected on the December 16 flyby, as well as JIRAM data that will be collected during future (and even closer) flybys of Io, NASA said.
Past NASA missions of exploration that have visited the Jovian system (Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini and New Horizons), along with ground-based observations, have located over 150 active volcanoes on Io so far.
Scientists estimate that about another 250 or so are waiting to be discovered.
Juno has logged nearly 235 million kilometres since entering Jupiter’s orbit on July 4, 2016.
Juno’s 13th science pass will be on July 16, the US space agency said.