The astonishing and clearest pictures of Jupiter’s two largest moons have been taken from Earth. Releasing these pictures, astronomers say that the icy moons of Jupiter can be clearly seen in these pictures.
The images show details of the icy surfaces and the processes that formed the chemical structures of Europa and Ganymede. Europa and Ganymede, two of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, are named after the astronomers who first observed them. Scientists hope that the new images taken from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile will strengthen future space missions.
These detailed images reveal geological features on the two icy moons. It also has a long, crack-like mark that looks like a cut on Europa’s surface. Scientists have called this a kind of deformation which has been named ‘linae’.
Europa is about the size of Earth’s moon and Ganymede, the largest moon in the Solar System and larger than the planet Mercury. Studying both of these shows that they record the amount of sunlight reflected off the Moon’s icy surfaces. Analysis of Europa has shown that its crust is mainly composed of frozen water. It includes different types of salts.
Team leader Oliver King says that we have mapped different materials present on the surface, including sulfuric acid frost, which is mainly found on the edge of Europa. Modeling found that different types of salts may be present on the surface, but infrared spectroscopy alone cannot generally determine which salt it is.
Analysis of Ganymede shows that there are two types of regions on the surface of the Moon. The newer areas show a larger amount of water ice, which is made up of dark brown material, than the old ones. The team is yet to identify this content.
Oliver King says that with VLT we have been able to do detailed mapping of Europa and Ganymede. The size of small figures on its surface is less than 150 kilometers and it is at a distance of 600 million kilometers from Earth. The moon’s close observation and mapping on this scale was previously only possible by sending spacecraft to Jupiter.
Clearest images yet of Europa and Ganymede from Earth show Jupiter’s icy moons in detail https://t.co/xJYwiFA6tJ pic.twitter.com/IGTRM2mpNn
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) October 11, 2022
This research does not mean that future missions to these moons have gone awry. Rather, this mapping of Europa and Ganymede makes the prospect of these spacecraft missions even more exciting.