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 detected an FM signal emitted by one of the gas giant’s satellites, Ganymede.
The discovery is not an indication of extraterrestrial life, but it is still fascinating, given that it was first discovered to come from a celestial satellite.
“This is not ET,” said Patrick Wiggins, one of NASA’s ambassadors to Utah, in comments received from Fox 8 Cleveland. “It’s more of a natural feature.”
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The spacecraft, launched in 2011, was traveling through Jupiter’s polar region at 111,847 miles per hour when it crossed a radio source known as “decametric radio broadcast” or simply Wi-Fi. He saw the broadcast for only five seconds, but there was enough time to confirm the source.
According to NASA, decameter radio waves have frequencies between 10 and 40 MHz, but never above 40 MHz. “It is believed that the spirals of electrons in Jupiter’s magnetic field are the cause of the radio noise we hear,” the space agency added.
Scientists have known about Jupiter’s radio waves since the mid-1950s, but this is the first time the phenomenon has ever been seen to have originated with Ganymede.
The findings were recently published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Although remarkable, this is not the first time scientists have discovered strange events in Ganymede. In 2018, researchers are observing “unusual” electromagnetic waves, also known as “choral waves”, thanks to the Galileo Sonda spacecraft.
Jupiter’s moon Ganymede has long fascinated astronomers – as it is the largest of the moons on the planet. In 2015, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope discovered evidence that Ganymede had an underground ocean.
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Juno has made a number of discoveries about Jupiter, including capturing remarkable, unprecedented images, as well as a “snow-white” oval storm.
The Juno mission started in 2011 and was supposed to cease operations in July 2021, but will now continue until September 2025 or for the rest of its life, whichever comes first. Juno will not only continue to observe the gas giant, but will also examine the rings of the planet and its moons, including the “close flights” of Ganymede, Europe and Io.
Europe, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, is home to an ocean that “could be habitable,” researchers said earlier.
In August 2019, NASA confirmed that it would send a mission to Europe to further study the celestial body.
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