The shadow of Jupiter’s moon, Io has been spotted by NASA’s Juno spacecraft that stretches 2,200 miles across the surface of the gas planet. NASA has given a simplistic explanation on the spotted giant black spot on its website by mentioning these events are frequent on Jupiter as it is a large planet with many moons.
Jupiter has 53 named moons and 26 officially unnamed moons according to the space agency. Unlike most other planets in the solar system Jupiter’s axis is not highly titled relative to its orbit. The sun thus never strays far from Jupiter’s equatorial plane (+/- 3 degrees) and Jupiter’s moons regularly cast shadows on the planet throughout its year.
The enhanced coloured image of the spotted gigantic black spot has been created by citizen scientist Kevin M. Gill using data from Juno’s JunoCam imager. It was captured when Juno was about 4,885 miles above Jupiter’s cloud tops.
Juno is in close proximity to Jupiter receiving an exceptional fish-eye view of the planet’s equator. The shadow that can be spotted is about 3,600 kms wide (the same width as Io) appearing relatively large due to Jupiter. The moon Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. A recent research project reported that a massive volcano on Io ‘Loki Patera’ could erupt imminently.
Jupiter is a gas giant being the fifth rock from the Sun and the heftiest planet in the solar system. It’s made up of a ball of hydrogen and helium contrary to the rocky composition of Earth and Mars.