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Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon Io Has a Collapsible Atmosphere

Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon Io Has a Collapsible Atmosphere

Credit: Southwest Research Institute

Jupiter’s active moon Io has a collapsible atmosphere: New views uncover a satellite’s hide of sulfur dioxide frozen when Io enters a planet’s shade any day and converting behind to gas when a moon emerges.

Io, Jupiter’s fifth moon, is the solar system’s many volcanically active body; plumes of a sulfur dioxide gas bursts from mixed active volcanoes, reaching adult to 300 miles (480 kilometers) above a moon’s aspect during a sweltering 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 degrees Celsius). The Jupiter moon’s surface, on a other hand, is frigidly cold, and gets even colder when Jupiter blocks out a object — that prompts a windy collapse. 

“This confirms that Io’s atmosphere is in a consistent state of fall and repair, and shows that a vast fragment of a atmosphere is upheld by sublimation of sulfur dioxide ice [when it turns to gas],” John Spencer, a researcher during Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Colorado and co-author on a new work, pronounced in a statement. “Though Io’s hyperactive volcanoes are a ultimate source of a sulfur dioxide, object controls a windy vigour on a daily basement by determining a feverishness of a ice on a surface.” [Amazing Photos: Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon Io]

“We’ve prolonged suspected this, though can finally watch it happen,” Spencer added in a same statement.

The researchers used a Gemini North telescope in Hawaii and a Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES) to watch Io cranky into and out of Jupiter’s shade on dual opposite nights. At a time, Io was some-more than 420 million miles (675 million km) from Earth. Previous studies were incompetent to make out Io’s atmosphere in a dark, though this new work relied on detecting a atmosphere radiating heat, researchers pronounced in a statement.

In sunlight, Io’s aspect averages out to reduction 235 degrees F (minus 150 degrees C), though once a moon passes into Jupiter’s shadow, that feverishness drops to reduction 270 degrees F (minus168 degrees C). No longer warmed by a sun, a atmosphere of sulfur dioxide gas freezes and turns to ice on a moon’s surface.

Credit: Southwest Research Institute

Io leaves Jupiter’s shade after 1.7 Earth days, that is 2 hours of Io’s day, and a sulfur dioxide sublimates — goes true from plain to gas — and pumps adult a atmosphere once again when a moon re-enters sunlight. 

Understanding the volcanic, lava-covered Io is pivotal to bargain a sourroundings around Jupiter, where NASA’s Juno booster arrived Jul 4, researchers pronounced in a statement. “Io spews out gases that eventually fill a Jupiter system, eventually seeding some of a auroral facilities seen during Jupiter’s poles,” pronounced Constantine Tsang, a study’s lead author (also during SwRI). “Understanding how these emissions from Io are tranquil will assistance paint a improved design of a Jupiter system.”

Email Sarah Lewin during or follow her @SarahExplains. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original essay on

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