The Freezing of Io's Atmosphere During Eclipses of the Sun by Jupiter

Io is a moon of Jupiter which is volcanically active and, in fact, is the most active object in the solar system. This strong volcanism is stimulated by the gravitational interaction between Io and Jupiter. Not only that, Io’s volcanoes emit plumes

3192 Views | Published on 22nd Sep, 2016

Io is a moon of Jupiter which is volcanically active and, in fact, is the most active object in the solar system. This strong volcanism is stimulated by the gravitational interaction between Io and Jupiter. Not only that, Io’s volcanoes emit plumes of SO2 gas extending up to 300 miles (483 km) above the moon’s surface and also produce extensive basaltic lava fields that can flow for hundreds of miles.

Using the Gemini Telescope, researchers discovered that Io's atmosphere collapses as the giant planet casts its shadow over the moon’s surface during daily eclipses. These eclipses are about 2 hours out of each Io-day (about 1.7 Earth days). Clever observations allowed several eclipses and subsequent freezing to be detected.

Join Tony Darnell and Carol Christian as they discuss with Constantine Tsang and John Spencer (Southwest Research Institute) along with Matthew Richter (University of California, Davis) the techniques used to discern this amazing phenomenon in our solar system.

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