NASA recently extended the life of two of its planetary discovery missions, including the Juno mission to Jupiter. Now it has come to light that Juno has discovered an FM signal originating from one of the gas giant’s moons, Ganymede.
The discovery is not an indication of extraterrestrial life, but it is nonetheless fascinating as it is the first time it has been discovered coming from the celestial satellite.
“It’s not ET,” Patrick Wiggins, one of NASA’s ambassadors to Utah, said in comments obtained by Fox 8 Cleveland. “It’s more of a natural feature.”
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Launched in 2011, the spacecraft happened to be traveling over Jupiter’s polar region at a speed of 111,847 mph as it crossed the radio source, known as a “decametric radio emission” or simply Wi-Fi. It watched the radio broadcast for only five seconds, but it was enough time to confirm the source.
According to NASA, the decametric radio waves have frequencies between 10 and 40 MHz, but never above 40 MHz. “Electrons sprouting in Jupiter’s magnetic field are thought to be the cause of the radio noise we hear,” the space agency added.
Scientists have known about radio waves on Jupiter since the mid-1950s, but this is the first time the phenomenon has ever been seen from Ganymede.
The results were recently published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Although remarkable, this is not the first time scientists have discovered strange events on Ganymede. In 2018, scientists observed “extraordinary” electromagnetic waves, also known as “corrugated waves” thanks to the Galileo Probe spacecraft.
Jupiter’s moon Ganymede has long fascinated astronomers – as it is the largest of the planet’s moons. In 2015, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope saw evidence that Ganymede has an underground ocean.
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Juno has made a number of discoveries about Jupiter, including the recording of remarkable, never-before-seen images as well as a “snow-white” oval storm.
The Juno mission was launched in 2011 and was scheduled to cease operations in July 2021, but will now continue until September 2025 or the end of its life, whichever comes first. Not only will Juno continue to observe the gas giant, but it will also look at the planet’s rings and moons, including “close flight towns” from Ganymede, Europe and Io.
Europe, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, is home to an ocean that “could be habitable,” scientists have previously said.
In August 2019, NASA confirmed that it would send a mission to Europe to further explore the celestial body.
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