NASA Releases Juno Photos of Io1st Jan 2024
NASA’s Juno explorer is making the closest fly-by of Jupiter’s Galilean moon Io in 20 years. Juno passed as close as 1500km of the moon on 30th December. The photos released include some taken as close as 2500km. Juno took photos of Io during the fly-by, which resulted in the closest-range and highest quality photos of the satellite taken in the past 20 years.
Researchers will have another opportunity for Juno to collect data about the Jovian satellite in February when the explorer will make another pass. As with the December event, the explorer will pass as close as 1500km from body’s surface.
What is NASA’s Deep Space Network?
Juno is transmitting data to NASA’s Deep Space Network. The network consists of three sites strategically located to ensure that one is in a position to receive signals from any particular point in the heavens. These locations, in California, Spain, and eastern Australia are all equipped with 70-meter dishes. The dishes, according to NASA, “are the largest and most sensitive DSN antennas, capable of tracking a spacecraft traveling tens of billions of miles from Earth.” Such antennas are required to be able to pick up signals from far-flung craft such as Voyager.
The Deep Space Network can also make use of sites such as Goonhilly Earth Station (GES), which has a 60-meter dish in Cornwall. GES CEO Ian Jones told Orbital Today in a soon-to-be published interview that agency-owned deep space focused assets are being increasingly utilized, giving commercial operations such as GES the opportunity to be involved.