NASA’s Juno spacecraft makes closest flyby of Jupiter’s Io

The Juno spacecraft flew past Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io on Tuesday, 16 May, its closest flyby to date, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said.

The flyby reached an altitude of about 22,060 miles (35,500 kilometers) above the surface, the American space agency added.

NASA posted on social media an image of Io taken by JunoCam, a citizen scientist camera aboard the spacecraft.

“Slightly larger than Earth’s moon, Io is in constant torment. Not only is Jupiter’s gravity constantly pulling at Io, but so are its lunar siblings. The moon gets stretched and squeezed, which forces lava to erupt from its many volcanoes,” NASA wrote in the caption.

Juno, which has been gathering data on Jupiter and exploring the giant planet’s ring system since July 2016, is now in its third year of extended mission.

NASA said the spacecraft has flown over 510 million miles, performing 50 flybys of Jupiter and also documented close encounters with the planet’s two other moons, Europa and Ganymede⁣.