Jupiter's moon Io
Jupiter's moon IoNASA

Scientists have discovered yet another possible volcano on the small moon of Jupiter. NASA's Juno spacecraft has collected data using the Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument. The data points toward a new heat source on the moon "Io". The heat source is located close to the south pole of Jupiter's satellite. According to experts, this could mean Io has an active volcano.

The data was collected on December 16, 2017. At that time, the Juno spacecraft was about 290,000 miles away from Io.

Jupiter's moon Io
This image highlights the location of the new heat source close to the south pole of Io.NASA

"The new Io hotspot JIRAM picked up is about 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the nearest previously mapped hotspot. We are not ruling out movement or modification of a previously discovered hot spot, but it is difficult to imagine one could travel such a distance and still be considered the same feature," one Juno co-investigator from Rome's National Institute for Astrophysics, Alessandro Mura stated.

The team of Juno experts will now continue to gather and examine all the information that was collected on December 16. They will also evaluate the JIRAM data, which would be gathered during the upcoming and closer flybys of Io.

Previously, several other NASA probes, such as Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini and New Horizons, had visited and explored the Jovian system. All these missions, along with ground-based observations, had spotted more than 150 active volcanoes on the small moon of Jupiter. Now, scientists estimate that the moon might have 250 more volcanos.

NASA's Juno spacecraft was launched on August 5, 2011, from Florida's Cape Canaveral.