The Juno spacecraft in orbit of Jupiter since 2016 last week got super-close to one of the top targets of NASA’s hunt for extraterrestrial life.

“It’s very early in the process, but by all indications Juno’s flyby of Europa was a great success,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

As you can see from these stunning close-ups from Juno’s two-megapixel camera, Europa has a mess of ridges and bands crisscrossing its surface. It’s often referred to as a “chaos terrain” by planetary geologists.

Juno’s flyby of Europa last week was the third-closest ever performed. The second-closest images came from NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1979, which imaged brown stripes on its surface that suggested cracks.

They were followed by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in 2000, which found evidence for an ocean beneath its surface ice.

Juno’s 45th perijove comes as Jupiter reaches its annual opposition in Earth’s night sky. On September 26, 2022, Earth was precisely between Jupiter and the Sun.

“Juno’s flyby of Europa isn’t just a dress rehearsal, but I think it may provide some some guidance and what we want to look for with with the much more extensive Europa Clipper mission,” said Lunine.