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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

SciFi Moon Revealed

Author: Guest Writer/Wednesday, March 28, 2012/Categories: Uncategorized

Io is very strange. Jupiter’s innermost moon consists of numerous and massive super-volcanoes.

The first images of Io were provided by the Galileo spacecraft that orbited Jupiter and its moons in the 1990’s. The satellite sent back amazing photography of the planet’s moons and discovered Io’s volcanoes  actively erupting. For the first time, scientists at the US Geological Service have created a global geologic map of the volcanically active moon.

Io-Prometheus- volcano-plume   Spacecraft: GALILEO_1                    Target: IO                              Filter:                                  Mission phase:                         Image time:                              Gain mode:                              Edit mode:                               Scan mode:                              Exposure:                                Shutter mode:                          Instrument: SSI                                                           Last mod: CLEAN                                                         Image ID: C9I0005                       Image Note:   io-map-USGS 

Prometheus Eruption on Io           Io Landscape Map                        Io Topographic Map

(credit: Galileo/JPL)                     (credit: USGS)                             (credit: USGS)

The new map provides a detailed perspective of Io, the fourth-largest moon in the solar system. It will allow a better understand the exotic Jovian satellite, which experiences 25 times the volcanic activity of that on Earth. The geologic map presents the different landforms and geologic deposits observed by Galileo on Io.

According to David Crown from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona: “the new USGS map provides a global context that is important for understanding Io’s evolution and volcanic processes and also  for targeting future robotic observations”.

If another robot ever returns to this real SciFi moon, it will be really interesting to see what it discovers in even more close-up details of Io---perhaps rivers and lakes of molten sulfur. That would be super-cool.




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