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NASA’s Juno probe captures the moon Amalthea orbiting Jupiter

The NASA Juno mission captured stunning images of Jupiter during its 59th close flyby of the giant planet on March 7, 2024.

According to the space agency, the images They provide a good view of Jupiter’s colorful belts and swirling storms, included the Great Red Spot. Close examination reveals something else: two glimpses of the small moon Amalthea.

In the image, the moon Amalthea can be seen as a small black dot above Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Photo: NASA

With a radius of only 84 kilometers, Amalthea is shaped like a potato and lacks the mass to become a sphere. In 2000, the spacecraft NASA Galileo revealed some surface features, including impact craters, hills and valleys.

Amalthea orbits Jupiter within the orbit of Io, which is the innermost of the planet’s four largest moons. and it takes 0.498 Earth days to complete one orbit.

Amalthea It is the reddest object in the Solar System and observations indicate that emits more heat than it receives from the Sun. This may be because, as it orbits within Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field, electrical currents are induced in the moon’s core. Alternatively, the heat could be due to tides caused by Jupiter’s gravity.

The Almatean Moon and its irregular shape. Photo: NASA

At the time the first of these two images was taken, The Juno spacecraft was about 265,000 kilometers away. above the cloud tops of Jupiter, at a latitude about 5 degrees north of the equator.

Citizen scientist Gerald Eichstädt created these images using raw data from the JunoCam instrument, applying processing techniques to improve the clarity of the images.

The most famous moons of Jupiter are its four Galilean satellites: Io, Europe, Ganymede and Calisto, each of which is several thousand kilometers wide. The fifth moon of Jupiter discovered, and the fifth largest of the planet’s 95 known moons, is Amalthea. It was found in 1892 by Edward Emerson Barnard an American astronomer who was a noted visual observer.

He also discovered Barnard’s staras well as a large number of dark nebulae.

Despite being Jupiter’s fifth largest moon, Amalthea has quite modest dimensions. Irregularly shaped like a potato, its longest axis extends just 250 kilometers and its narrowest point extends just 128 km (79 miles). Gravity measurements by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the early 2000s deduced that Amalthea is little more than a pile of loose debris rather than solid rock.

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