Enhance! NASA's Juno Images Are Inspirated by Citizen Scientists

Enhance! NASA's Juno Images Are Inspirated by Citizen Scientists ...

Citizen scientists have created deep-space portraits of Jupiter's moon Europa that are both breathtaking and worthy of further research.

Scientists have processed new JunoCam images of Jupiter's icy moon, revealing incredible results.

Citizen scientists have provided unique perspectives of the Juno spacecraft's recent close flyby of Jupiter's icy moon Europa. Members of the public have created deep-space photographs of the Jovian moon that are not only spectacular, but also worthy of further scientific investigation.

"During every Juno flyby, and now its moons, their work provides a unique perspective," said Scott Bolton, the Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Center in San Antonio. "They are leading the way by using our images for new discoveries. These latest images from Europa highlight details about Europa's behavior both on the surface and beneath the ice."

Björn Jónsson's image of the Jovian moon Europa was created by processing an image from JunoCam taken during Juno's close flyby on September 29, 2022. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

During its September 29 visit to Europa, JunoCam captured four photographs. Here's a closer up:

Europa Up Close

JunoCam took its closest picture (above) at an altitude of 945 miles (1,521 kilometers). At the time, it was soaring over a moon region called Annwn Regio. The surrounding area is revealed to be rugged and covered with pits and troughs. A multitude of bright and dark ridges and bands stretch across a fractured surface, revealing the tectonic stresses that the moon has endured over millennia.

JunoCam images such as these help fill in gaps in NASA's Voyager and Galileo missions. The image was processed by citizen scientist Björn Jónsson to enhance the color and contrast. The resolution is about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) per pixel.

This pair of photographs, one that is minimally processed (left) and one that is enhanced (right), shows the same portion of Europa as captured by the Juno spacecraft's JunoCam during the mission's September 29 close flyby.

Citizen scientists' JunoCam images often cross over into the realms of science and art. In the image (above) at right, processed by Navaneeth Krishnan, larger surface features stand out more than in the lightly processed version of the image (left). An example of the results can be seen in the lower right of the enhanced image, where noticeable shadows are cast by the pits and a small block.

Candy Hansen, a senior researcher at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, believes that Juno's citizen scientists are part of a global community that advances both new perspectives and new insights.

An image taken by JunoCam during the mission's close flyby on September 29, 2022 was reprocessed by Kevin M. Gill and Fernando Garcia Navarro, and the result is a highly stylized image. CC BY 2.0

Fernando Garcia Navarro, a citizen scientist, created this highly stylized image (above). He downloaded and processed an image that fellow citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill had previously created, rendering a psychedelic image he has named "Fall Colors of Europa."

The processed image evokes a NASA poster commemorating Juno's five-year orbital insertion at Jupiter in 2021.

NASA/JPL-Caltech's spooky celebration of Juno's five-year anniversary of its orbital insertion at Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Juno spacecraft only had a few minutes to collect data and images during its close flyby of Europa. According to plans, the moon's gravitational pull reduced Juno's time delay to 43 to 38 days during Juno's extended mission. In 2023 and 2024, it will take close flybys of Io, the third-largest of the four Galilean moons, and that will take many years to complete.

Juno's observations of Europa's geology will not only enhance our understanding of Europa, but also complement future NASA explorations of the Jovian moon. The Europa Clipper mission, scheduled to launch in 2024, will study the moon's atmosphere, surface, and interior, with a primary science goal to discover whether there are locations below Europa's surface that might support life.

More about the Mission

The Juno mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California. It is operated by Lockheed Martin Space, which was the primary contractor for the Juno mission.

You may also like: