We’re about to get a close up look at the most volcanic world in the solar system.
NASA’s Juno probe orbiting Jupiter is set to snap some dazzling images of the Jovian moon Io on Dec. 15 as part of its extended mission to explore the gas planet’s moons. After buzzing around the moons Ganymede and Europa, the probe has set its sights on one of the more interesting and volcanically active moons out there—and could even help reveal life beneath the surface.
“The team is really excited to have Juno’s extended mission include the study of Jupiter’s moons,” Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator, said in a statement. “With each close flyby, we have been able to obtain a wealth of new information.”
The upcoming look at Io will be the first of nine by the probe. Two of them will come as close as 930 miles to the surface of the moon. Researchers hope to use its high resolution cameras and sensors to study the outer magma crust as well as the moon’s many volcanoes to see how their eruptions impact Jupiter.
The latest excursion to the hellish moon is another feather in the cap of the NASA probe that has been delivering impressive insights and data about Jupiter and its moons since its arrival to the gas giant in 2016. Last year, it made a close approach to the Jovian moon Ganymede to study the mysteries of the planet’s magnetic field. More recently, Juno took some of the most detailed images of Jupiter’s ice moon Europa yet.
Now we’ll no doubt see an influx of incredible insights—and not to mention fantastic images—of Io. Let’s just hope it stays far away enough from the lava.