The surface of the pizza moon Io is glass-smooth in places (and yes, there are photos of that)

Two erupting volcanoes and a lava lake form a perfect mirror: After extensive analysis by NASA, it is now clear that there is much more for scientists to discover on Jupiter's pizza moon.

Io, one of Jupiter's moons, is full of surprises. This is actually the overall conclusion that scientists seem to have reached after analyzing data from two flights. For example, during its maiden flight last December, the space probe took a number of global images Juno. These images are particularly special because they were taken from a very close location: “only” 1,500 kilometers from the surface. During a subsequent flight of Juno In February, special photos of IU were taken again. This time the images showed two huge plumes of smoke, likely indicating volcanic activity. NASA scientists have now analyzed data previously obtained from these two flybys. Two animations were also created based on this data. Lead researcher Scott Bolton presented the findings during General Assembly of the European Geophysical Union On Wednesday, April 16 in Vienna.

Lava lake
New animation especially captures the imagination. The first animation concerns a lava lake. Lucky Patera. Bolton added: “We were able to take some close-up photos of the lava lake that is more than 200 kilometers long. We also call this lake Lucky Patera. In the pictures you can see distinctive islands located in the middle of this lake. The lake itself may be composed of magma and surrounded by warm lava. Our instruments captured a stunning reflection off the lake, indicating that some parts of Io's surface are smooth as glass. This is reminiscent of the obsidian we sometimes encounter on Earth. On the second animation it is SteepleMountain to see; It is best described as a giant mountain.

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Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Lava lake Loki Patera.
Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Giant Steeple Mountain.

Capturing beautiful shots of Jupiter's pizza moon is of course a lot of fun and the results are certainly impressive. However, this is not the main reason behind it Juno Go to this area. An important mission of the space probe is to learn more about the largest planet in our solar system: Jupiter. The main goal of this mission is to glimpse Jupiter's thick cloud cover and provide more information about how the gas giant is built, formed and evolves. The composition of Jupiter in particular is still a big mystery for scientists: during a previous investigation, a space probe landed Galileo In Jupiter's atmosphere to search for water there. However, it found warmer than expected temperatures and exceptionally dry air. Bolton concludes that: “The space probe (Galileo(Editor) did a great job, but the data (regarding the amount of water in the atmosphere, Editor) didn't match what we expected at all. Thanks to recent measurements with MWR (an instrument on board Juno, editor) we can now determine this Galileo It was in an unusually dry, desert-like area for the time.

Thus Juno helps researchers put more and more puzzle pieces into place; Not only when it comes to Jupiter, but also the interesting moons that this gas giant has to offer.

Winton Frazier

 "Amateur web lover. Incurable travel nerd. Beer evangelist. Thinker. Internet expert. Explorer. Gamer."

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