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Io (moon)

Io (moon)

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Io is the innermost of the four Galilean moons
Galilean moons
The Galilean moons are the four moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo Galilei in January 1610. They are the largest of the many moons of Jupiter and derive their names from the lovers of Zeus: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Ganymede, Europa and Io participate in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance...

 of the planet Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

 and, with a diameter
Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints are on the circle. The diameters are the longest chords of the circle...

 of 3642 kilometres (2,263 mi), the fourth-largest moon in the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

. It was named after the mythological character of Io
Io (mythology)
Io was, in Greek mythology, a priestess of Hera in Argos, a nymph who was seduced by Zeus, who changed her into a heifer to escape detection. His wife Hera set ever-watchful Argus Panoptes to guard her, but Hermes was sent to distract the guardian and slay him...

, a priestess of Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

 who became one of the lovers of Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

.

With over 400 active volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

es, Io is the most geologically active object in the Solar System. This extreme geologic activity is the result of tidal heating from friction generated within Io's interior as it is pulled between Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

 and the other Galilean satellites—Europa
Europa (moon)
Europa Slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and probably has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This surface is striated by cracks and...

, Ganymede
Ganymede (moon)
Ganymede is a satellite of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System. It is the seventh moon and third Galilean satellite outward from Jupiter. Completing an orbit in roughly seven days, Ganymede participates in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with the moons Europa and Io, respectively...

 and Callisto
Callisto (moon)
Callisto named after the Greek mythological figure of Callisto) is a moon of the planet Jupiter. It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei. It is the third-largest moon in the Solar System and the second largest in the Jovian system, after Ganymede. Callisto has about 99% the diameter of the...

. Several volcanoes produce plumes of sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

 and sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

 that climb as high as 500 km (310.7 mi) above the surface. Io's surface is also dotted with more than 100 mountains that have been uplifted by extensive compression at the base of the moon's silicate crust. Some of these peaks are taller than Earth's Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

. Unlike most satellites in the outer Solar System, which are mostly composed of water ice, Io is primarily composed of silicate rock surrounding a molten iron or iron sulfide core. Most of Io's surface is characterized by extensive plains coated with sulfur and sulfur dioxide frost.

Io's volcanism is responsible for many of the satellite's unique features. Its volcanic plumes and lava flows produce large surface changes and paint the surface in various shades of yellow, red, white, black, and green, largely due to allotropes
Allotropes of sulfur
There are a large number of allotropes of sulfur. In this respect, sulfur is second only to carbon.The most common form found in nature is yellow orthorhombic α-sulfur, which contains puckered rings of . Chemistry students may have seen "plastic sulfur"; this is not an allotrope but a mixture of...

 and compounds of sulfur. Numerous extensive lava flows, several more than 500 km (310.7 mi) in length, also mark the surface. The materials produced by this volcanism provide material for Io's thin, patchy atmosphere and Jupiter's extensive magnetosphere. Io's volcanic ejecta also produce a large plasma torus
Gas torus
A gas torus is a toroidal cloud of gas or plasma that encircles a planet. In the Solar System, gas tori tend to be produced by the interaction of a satellite's atmosphere with the magnetic field of a planet...

 around Jupiter.

Io played a significant role in the development of astronomy in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

, along with the other Galilean satellites. This discovery furthered the adoption of the Copernican model
Heliocentrism
Heliocentrism, or heliocentricism, is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around a stationary Sun at the center of the universe. The word comes from the Greek . Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to geocentrism, which placed the Earth at the center...

 of the Solar System, the development of Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

's laws of motion, and the first measurement of the speed of light
Rømer's determination of the speed of light
Rømer's determination of the speed of light was the demonstration in 1676 that light has a finite speed, and so doesn't travel instantaneously. The discovery is usually attributed to Danish astronomer Ole Rømer ,There are several alternative spellings of Rømer's surname: Roemer, Rœmer, Römer etc....

. From Earth, Io remained nothing more than a point of light until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it became possible to resolve its large-scale surface features, such as the dark red polar and bright equatorial regions. In 1979, the two Voyager
Voyager program
The Voyager program is a U.S program that launched two unmanned space missions, scientific probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. They were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favorable planetary alignment of the late 1970s...

spacecraft revealed Io to be a geologically active world, with numerous volcanic features, large mountains, and a young surface with no obvious impact craters. The Galileo spacecraft performed several close flybys in the 1990s and early 2000s, obtaining data about Io's interior structure and surface composition. These spacecraft also revealed the relationship between the satellite and Jupiter's magnetosphere and the existence of a belt of radiation centered on Io's orbit. Io receives about 3,600 rem
Röntgen equivalent man
Named after Wilhelm Röntgen , the roentgen equivalent in man or rem is a unit of radiation dose equivalent...

 (36 Sv
Sievert
The sievert is the International System of Units SI derived unit of dose equivalent radiation. It attempts to quantitatively evaluate the biological effects of ionizing radiation as opposed to just the absorbed dose of radiation energy, which is measured in gray...

) of radiation per day.

Further observations have been made by Cassini–Huygens in 2000 and New Horizons
New Horizons
New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011 P 1. Its estimated arrival date at the Pluto-Charon system is July 14th, 2015...

 in 2007, as well as from Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

-based telescopes and the Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. A 2.4 meter aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared...

 as their technology has advanced.

Nomenclature



While Simon Marius
Simon Marius
Simon Marius was a German astronomer. He was born in Gunzenhausen, near Nuremberg, but he spent most of his life in the city of Ansbach....

 is not credited with the sole discovery of the Galilean satellites, his names for the moons were adopted. In his 1614 publication Mundus Iovialis anno M.DC.IX Detectus Ope Perspicilli Belgici, he proposed several possible names for the innermost of the large moons of Jupiter, including The Mercury of Jupiter or The First of the "Jovian Planets". Based on a suggestion from Johannes Kepler in October 1613, he also generated a naming scheme so that each moon was given its own name based on the lovers of the Greek mythological
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 or his Roman
Roman mythology
Roman mythology is the body of traditional stories pertaining to ancient Rome's legendary origins and religious system, as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans...

 equivalent, Jupiter
Jupiter (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods, and the god of the sky and thunder. He is the equivalent of Zeus in the Greek pantheon....

. In this case, he named the innermost large moon of Jupiter after the Greek mythological figure Io
Io (mythology)
Io was, in Greek mythology, a priestess of Hera in Argos, a nymph who was seduced by Zeus, who changed her into a heifer to escape detection. His wife Hera set ever-watchful Argus Panoptes to guard her, but Hermes was sent to distract the guardian and slay him...

. The most common adjectival form of the name is Ionian. Marius' names fell out of favor, and were not revived in common use until the mid-20th century. In much of the earlier astronomical literature, Io is simply referred to by its Roman numeral
Roman numerals
The numeral system of ancient Rome, or Roman numerals, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. The numbers 1 to 10 can be expressed in Roman numerals as:...

 designation (a system introduced by Galileo) as "", or simply as "the first satellite of Jupiter".

Features on Io are named after characters and places from the Io myth, as well as deities of fire, volcanoes, the Sun, and thunder from various myths, and characters and places from Dante
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's Inferno, names appropriate to the volcanic nature of the surface. Since the surface was first seen up close by Voyager 1
Voyager 1
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for as of today , the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of as of...

the International Astronomical Union
International Astronomical Union
The International Astronomical Union IAU is a collection of professional astronomers, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy...

 has approved 225 names for Io's volcanoes, mountains, plateaus, and large albedo features. The approved feature categories used for Io for different types of volcanic features include patera (volcanic depression), fluctus (lava flow), vallis
Vallis
Vallis is the Latin word for valley. It is used in planetary geology for the naming of landform features on other planets....

(lava channel), and active eruptive center (location where plume activity was the first sign of volcanic activity at a particular volcano). Named mountains, plateaus, layered terrain, and shield volcanoes use the terms mons, mensa, planum, tholus
Tholus
In planetary geology, tholus is the term used to describe a small domical mountain or hill. The word is from the Greek θόλος, which means a circular building with a conical or vaulted roof. The Romans transliterated the word into the Latin tholus, which means cupola or dome...

, respectively. Named, bright albedo regions use the term regio. Examples of named features include Prometheus
Prometheus (volcano)
Prometheus is an active volcano on Jupiter's moon Io. It is located on Io's hemisphere facing away from Jupiter at . Prometheus consists of a -wide volcanic pit named Prometheus Patera and a -long compound lava flow, all surrounded by reddish sulfur and circular, bright sulfur dioxide volcanic...

, Pan Mensa, Tvashtar Paterae
Tvashtar Paterae
Tvashtar Paterae compose an active volcanic region of Jupiter's moon Io located near the moon's north pole. It is a series of paterae, or volcanic craters. It is named after Tvashtar, the Hindu god of blacksmiths....

, and Tsũi Goab Fluctus.

Observational history




The first reported observation of Io was made by Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 on January 7, 1610 using a 20x-power, refracting telescope at the University of Padua
University of Padua
The University of Padua is a premier Italian university located in the city of Padua, Italy. The University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second...

. However, in that observation, Galileo could not separate Io and Europa
Europa (moon)
Europa Slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and probably has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This surface is striated by cracks and...

 due to the low power of his telescope, so the two were recorded as a single point of light. Io and Europa were seen for the first time as separate bodies during Galileo's observations of the Jupiter system the following day, January 8, 1610 (used as the discovery date for Io by the IAU
International Astronomical Union
The International Astronomical Union IAU is a collection of professional astronomers, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy...

). The discovery of Io and the other Galilean satellites of Jupiter was published in Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius
Sidereus Nuncius
Sidereus Nuncius is a short treatise published in New Latin by Galileo Galilei in March 1610. It was the first scientific treatise based on observations made through a telescope...

in March 1610. In his Mundus Jovialis, published in 1614, Simon Marius claimed to have discovered Io and the other moons of Jupiter in 1609, one week before Galileo's discovery. Galileo doubted this claim and dismissed the work of Marius as plagiarism. Regardless, Marius' first recorded observation came from December 29, 1609 in the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

, which equates to January 8, 1610 in the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

, which Galileo used. Given that Galileo published his work before Marius, Galileo is credited with the discovery.

For the next two and a half centuries, Io remained an unresolved, 5th-magnitude point of light in astronomers' telescopes. During the 17th century, Io and the other Galilean satellites served a variety of purposes, such as helping mariners determine their longitude
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

, validating Kepler's Third Law of planetary motion, and determining the time required for light to travel between Jupiter and Earth. Based on ephemerides
Ephemeris
An ephemeris is a table of values that gives the positions of astronomical objects in the sky at a given time or times. Different kinds of ephemerides are used for astronomy and astrology...

 produced by astronomer Giovanni Cassini
Giovanni Domenico Cassini
This article is about the Italian-born astronomer. For his French-born great-grandson, see Jean-Dominique Cassini.Giovanni Domenico Cassini was an Italian/French mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrologer...

 and others, Pierre-Simon Laplace
Pierre-Simon Laplace
Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace was a French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five volume Mécanique Céleste...

 created a mathematical theory to explain the resonant orbits of Io, Europa
Europa (moon)
Europa Slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and probably has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This surface is striated by cracks and...

, and Ganymede
Ganymede (moon)
Ganymede is a satellite of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System. It is the seventh moon and third Galilean satellite outward from Jupiter. Completing an orbit in roughly seven days, Ganymede participates in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with the moons Europa and Io, respectively...

. This resonance was later found to have a profound effect on the geologies of the three moons.

Improved telescope technology in the late 19th and 20th centuries allowed astronomers to resolve
Optical resolution
Optical resolution describes the ability of an imaging system to resolve detail in the object that is being imaged.An imaging system may have many individual components including a lens and recording and display components...

 (that is, see as distinct objects) large-scale surface features on Io. In the 1890s, Edward E. Barnard was the first to observe variations in Io's brightness between its equatorial and polar regions, correctly determining that this was due to differences in color and albedo
Albedo
Albedo , or reflection coefficient, is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface. It is defined as the ratio of reflected radiation from the surface to incident radiation upon it...

 between the two regions and not due to Io being egg-shaped, as proposed at the time by fellow astronomer William Pickering
William Henry Pickering
William Henry Pickering was an American astronomer, brother of Edward Charles Pickering. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1883.-Work:...

, or two separate objects, as initially proposed by Barnard. Later telescopic observations confirmed Io's distinct reddish-brown polar regions and yellow-white equatorial band.

Telescopic observations in the mid-20th century began to hint at Io's unusual nature. Spectroscopic observations suggested that Io's surface was devoid of water ice (a substance found to be plentiful on the other Galilean satellites). The same observations suggested a surface dominated by evaporates composed of sodium
Sodium
Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals; its only stable isotope is 23Na. It is an abundant element that exists in numerous minerals, most commonly as sodium chloride...

 salts and sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

. Radio telescopic observations revealed Io's influence on the Jovian magnetosphere
Magnetosphere
A magnetosphere is formed when a stream of charged particles, such as the solar wind, interacts with and is deflected by the intrinsic magnetic field of a planet or similar body. Earth is surrounded by a magnetosphere, as are the other planets with intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Jupiter,...

, as demonstrated by decametric
Decametre
A decametre or dekametre is a very rarely used unit of length in the metric system, equal to ten metres, the SI base unit of length. It can be written in scientific notation as , meaning .This measure is included mostly for completeness...

 wavelength
Wavelength
In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...

 bursts tied to the orbital period of Io.

Pioneer


The first spacecraft to pass by Io were the twin Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10 is a 258-kilogram robotic space probe that completed the first interplanetary mission to Jupiter, and became the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity from the Solar System. The project was managed by the NASA Ames Research Center and the contract for the construction of the...

and 11
Pioneer 11
Pioneer 11 is a 259-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on April 6, 1973 to study the asteroid belt, the environment around Jupiter and Saturn, solar wind, cosmic rays, and eventually the far reaches of the solar system and heliosphere...

probes on December 3, 1973 and December 2, 1974 respectively. Radio tracking provided an improved estimate of Io's mass, which, along with the best available information of Io's size, suggested that Io had the highest density of the four Galilean satellites, and was composed primarily of silicate rock rather than water ice. The Pioneers also revealed the presence of a thin atmosphere at Io and intense radiation belts near the orbit of Io. The camera on board Pioneer 11 took the only good image of Io obtained by either spacecraft, showing its north polar region. Close-up images were planned during Pioneer 10's encounter with Io, but those observations were lost because of the high-radiation environment.

Voyager



When the twin probes Voyager 1
Voyager 1
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for as of today , the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of as of...

and Voyager 2
Voyager 2
The Voyager 2 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space...

passed by Io in 1979, their more advanced imaging system allowed for far more detailed images. Voyager 1 flew past the satellite on March 5, 1979 from a distance of 20600 km (12,800.3 mi). The images returned during the approach revealed a strange, multi-colored landscape devoid of impact craters. The highest-resolution images showed a relatively young surface punctuated by oddly shaped pits, mountains taller than Mount Everest, and features resembling volcanic lava flows.

Shortly after the encounter, Voyager navigation engineer Linda A. Morabito
Linda A. Morabito
Linda A. Morabito , also known as Linda Kelly, Linda Hyder, and Linda Morabito-Meyer, is the astronomer who made the discovery of volcanic activity on Io, a moon of Jupiter, on March 9, 1979, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory...

 noticed a plume emanating from the surface in one of the images. Analysis of other Voyager 1 images showed nine such plumes scattered across the surface, proving that Io was volcanically active. This conclusion was predicted in a paper published shortly before the Voyager 1 encounter by Stan J. Peale, Patrick Cassen, and R. T. Reynolds. The authors calculated that Io's interior must experience significant tidal heating caused by its orbital resonance with Europa and Ganymede (see the "Tidal heating" section for a more detailed explanation of the process). Data from this flyby showed that the surface of Io is dominated by sulfur and sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

 frosts. These compounds also dominate its thin atmosphere and the torus of plasma centered on Io's orbit (also discovered by Voyager).

Voyager 2 passed Io on July 9, 1979 at a distance of 1130000 km (702,151.2 mi). Though it did not approach nearly as close as Voyager 1, comparisons between images taken by the two spacecraft showed several surface changes that had occurred in the four months between the encounters. In addition, observations of Io as a crescent as Voyager 2 departed the Jovian system revealed that seven of the nine plumes observed in March were still active in July 1979, with only the volcano Pele
Pele (volcano)
Pele is an active volcano on the surface of Jupiter's moon Io. It is located on Io's trailing hemisphere at A large, tall volcanic plume has been observed at Pele by various spacecraft starting with Voyager 1 in 1979, though it has not been persistent. The discovery of the Pele plume on March...

 shutting down between flybys.

Galileo



The Galileo spacecraft arrived at Jupiter in 1995 after a six-year journey from Earth to follow up on the discoveries of the two Voyager probes and ground-based observations taken in the intervening years. Io's location within one of Jupiter's most intense radiation belts precluded a prolonged close flyby, but Galileo did pass close by shortly before entering orbit for its two-year, primary mission studying the Jovian system. While no images were taken during the close flyby on December 7, 1995, the encounter did yield significant results, such as the discovery of a large iron core, similar to that found in the rocky planets of the inner solar system.

Despite the lack of close-up imaging and mechanical problems that greatly restricted the amount of data returned, several significant discoveries were made during Galileo's primary mission. Galileo observed the effects of a major eruption at Pillan Patera and confirmed that volcanic eruptions are composed of silicate magmas with magnesium-rich mafic
Mafic
Mafic is an adjective describing a silicate mineral or rock that is rich in magnesium and iron; the term is a portmanteau of the words "magnesium" and "ferric". Most mafic minerals are dark in color and the relative density is greater than 3. Common rock-forming mafic minerals include olivine,...

 and ultramafic compositions with sulfur and sulfur dioxide serving a role similar to water and carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 on Earth. Distant imaging of Io was acquired for almost every orbit during the primary mission, revealing large numbers of active volcanoes (both thermal emission from cooling magma on the surface and volcanic plumes), numerous mountains with widely varying morphologies, and several surface changes that had taken place both between the Voyager and Galileo eras and between Galileo orbits.

The Galileo mission was twice extended, in 1997 and 2000. During these extended missions, the probe flew by Io three times in late 1999 and early 2000 and three times in late 2001 and early 2002. Observations during these encounters revealed the geologic processes occurring at Io's volcanoes and mountains, excluded the presence of a magnetic field, and demonstrated the extent of volcanic activity. In December 2000, the Cassini spacecraft had a distant and brief encounter with the Jupiter system en route to Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

, allowing for joint observations with Galileo. These observations revealed a new plume at Tvashtar Paterae
Tvashtar Paterae
Tvashtar Paterae compose an active volcanic region of Jupiter's moon Io located near the moon's north pole. It is a series of paterae, or volcanic craters. It is named after Tvashtar, the Hindu god of blacksmiths....

 and provided insights into Io's aurorae.

Subsequent observations



Following Galileo's deliberate demise in Jupiter's atmosphere in September 2003, new observations of Io's volcanism came from Earth-based telescopes. In particular, adaptive optics
Adaptive optics
Adaptive optics is a technology used to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effect of wavefront distortions. It is used in astronomical telescopes and laser communication systems to remove the effects of atmospheric distortion, and in retinal imaging systems to reduce the...

 imaging from the Keck telescope in Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 and imaging from the Hubble telescope have allowed astronomers to monitor Io's active volcanoes. This imaging has allowed scientists to monitor volcanic activity on Io, even without a spacecraft in the Jupiter system.

The New Horizons
New Horizons
New Horizons is a NASA robotic spacecraft mission currently en route to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is expected to be the first spacecraft to fly by and study Pluto and its moons, Charon, Nix, Hydra and S/2011 P 1. Its estimated arrival date at the Pluto-Charon system is July 14th, 2015...

spacecraft, en route to Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

 and the Kuiper belt
Kuiper belt
The Kuiper belt , sometimes called the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt, is a region of the Solar System beyond the planets extending from the orbit of Neptune to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, although it is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive...

, flew by the Jupiter system and Io on February 28, 2007. During the encounter, numerous distant observations of Io were obtained. These included images of a large plume at Tvashtar, providing the first detailed observations of the largest class of Ionian volcanic plume since observations of Pele's plume in 1979. New Horizons also captured images of a volcano near Girru Patera in the early stages of an eruption, and several volcanic eruptions that have occurred since Galileo.

There are currently only one forthcoming mission planned for the Jupiter system. Juno
Juno (spacecraft)
Juno is a NASA New Frontiers mission to the planet Jupiter. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011. The spacecraft is to be placed in a polar orbit to study the planet's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere...

,
launched on August 5, 2011, has limited imaging capabilities, but it could provide monitoring of Io's volcanic activity using its near-infrared spectrometer, JIRAM. In addition to these missions already approved by NASA, several missions have been proposed that would take Io data. The Europa/Jupiter System Mission
Europa Jupiter System Mission
The Europa Jupiter System Mission – Laplace was a proposed joint NASA/ESA unmanned space mission slated to launch around 2020 for the in-depth exploration of Jupiter's moons with a focus on Europa, Ganymede and Jupiter's magnetosphere...

 (EJSM), a joint NASA/ESA project approved in February 2009, would study Io using a NASA-provided Europa-orbiter and an ESA-provided Ganymede orbiter. Currently, this mission is in budgetary limbo, with the NASA component not funded. The ESA component, now called the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer
Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer
The Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer is an ESA-led reformulation of the former Europa Jupiter System Mission - Laplace . It is a candidate to become the first L class mission of the ESA Cosmic Vision Programme.-External links:*...

 (JUICE), is in competition with other large-missions at ESA for selection. JUICE would not encounter Io but could observe the moon from a distance. The Io Volcano Observer
Io Volcano Observer
Io Volcano Observer is a proposed unmanned spacecraft that, if approved and launched, would orbit Jupiter and perform at least seven flybys of Jupiter's moon Io. IVO has been proposed to NASA by the University of Arizona as both a science and engineering mission, originally as part of NASA's...

was a proposal for a Discovery-class mission that would launch in 2015. It involved multiple flybys of Io while in orbit around Jupiter; however, this mission was not selected for Phase A study by NASA, and remains a mission concept.

Orbit and rotation



Io orbits Jupiter at a distance of 421700 km (262,032.9 mi) from the planet's center and 350000 km (217,480.5 mi) from its cloudtops. It is the innermost of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, its orbit lying between those of Thebe
Thebe (moon)
Thebe also known as ', is the fourth of Jupiter's moons by distance from the planet. It was discovered by Stephen P. Synnott in images from the Voyager 1 space probe taken on March 5, 1979, while orbiting around Jupiter...

 and Europa
Europa (moon)
Europa Slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and probably has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This surface is striated by cracks and...

. Including Jupiter's inner satellites, Io is the fifth moon out from Jupiter. It takes 42.5 hours to complete one orbit (fast enough for its motion to be observed over a single night of observation). Io is in a 2:1 mean-motion orbital resonance
Orbital resonance
In celestial mechanics, an orbital resonance occurs when two orbiting bodies exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on each other, usually due to their orbital periods being related by a ratio of two small integers. Orbital resonances greatly enhance the mutual gravitational influence of...

 with Europa and a 4:1 mean-motion orbital resonance with Ganymede
Ganymede (moon)
Ganymede is a satellite of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System. It is the seventh moon and third Galilean satellite outward from Jupiter. Completing an orbit in roughly seven days, Ganymede participates in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with the moons Europa and Io, respectively...

, completing two orbits of Jupiter for every one orbit completed by Europa, and four orbits for every one completed by Ganymede. This resonance helps maintain Io's orbital eccentricity
Orbital eccentricity
The orbital eccentricity of an astronomical body is the amount by which its orbit deviates from a perfect circle, where 0 is perfectly circular, and 1.0 is a parabola, and no longer a closed orbit...

 (0.0041), which in turn provides the primary heating source for its geologic activity (see the "Tidal heating" section for a more detailed explanation of the process). Without this forced eccentricity, Io's orbit would circularize through tidal dissipation
Tidal acceleration
Tidal acceleration is an effect of the tidal forces between an orbiting natural satellite , and the primary planet that it orbits . The "acceleration" is usually negative, as it causes a gradual slowing and recession of a satellite in a prograde orbit away from the primary, and a corresponding...

, leading to a geologically less active world.

Like the other Galilean satellites of Jupiter and the Earth's Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

, Io rotates synchronously
Tidal locking
Tidal locking occurs when the gravitational gradient makes one side of an astronomical body always face another; for example, the same side of the Earth's Moon always faces the Earth. A tidally locked body takes just as long to rotate around its own axis as it does to revolve around its partner...

 with its orbital period, keeping one face nearly pointed toward Jupiter. This synchronicity provides the definition for Io's longitude system. Io's prime meridian
Prime Meridian
The Prime Meridian is the meridian at which the longitude is defined to be 0°.The Prime Meridian and its opposite the 180th meridian , which the International Date Line generally follows, form a great circle that divides the Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.An international...

 intersects the north and south poles, and the equator at the sub-Jovian point. The side of Io that always faces Jupiter is known as the subjovian hemisphere, while the side that always faces away is known as the antijovian hemisphere. The side of Io that always faces in the direction that the moon travels in its orbit is known as the leading hemisphere, while the side that always faces in the opposite direction is known as the trailing hemisphere.

Interaction with Jupiter's magnetosphere



Io plays a significant role in shaping the Jovian magnetic field. The magnetosphere of Jupiter sweeps up gases and dust from Io's thin atmosphere at a rate of 1 tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

 per second. This material is mostly composed of ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

ized and atomic sulfur, oxygen and chlorine; atomic sodium and potassium; molecular sulfur dioxide and sulfur; and sodium chloride
Sodium chloride
Sodium chloride, also known as salt, common salt, table salt or halite, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaCl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of the ocean and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms...

 dust. These materials ultimately have their origin from Io's volcanic activity, but the material that escapes to Jupiter's magnetic field and into interplanetary space comes directly from Io's atmosphere. These materials, depending on their ionized state and composition, ultimately end up in various neutral (non-ionized) clouds and radiation belts in Jupiter's magnetosphere
Magnetosphere
A magnetosphere is formed when a stream of charged particles, such as the solar wind, interacts with and is deflected by the intrinsic magnetic field of a planet or similar body. Earth is surrounded by a magnetosphere, as are the other planets with intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Jupiter,...

 and, in some cases, are eventually ejected from the Jovian system.

Surrounding Io (up to a distance of 6 Io radii from the moon's surface) is a cloud of neutral sulfur, oxygen, sodium, and potassium atoms. These particles originate in Io's upper atmosphere but are excited from collisions with ions in the plasma
Plasma (physics)
In physics and chemistry, plasma is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms , thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions...

 torus
Torus
In geometry, a torus is a surface of revolution generated by revolving a circle in three dimensional space about an axis coplanar with the circle...

 (discussed below) and other processes into filling Io's Hill sphere
Hill sphere
An astronomical body's Hill sphere is the region in which it dominates the attraction of satellites. To be retained by a planet, a moon must have an orbit that lies within the planet's Hill sphere. That moon would, in turn, have a Hill sphere of its own...

, which is the region where the moon's gravity is predominant over Jupiter. Some of this material escapes Io's gravitational pull and goes into orbit around Jupiter. Over a 20-hour period, these particles spread out from Io to form a banana-shaped, neutral cloud that can reach as far as 6 Jovian radii from Io, either inside Io's orbit and ahead of the satellite or outside Io's orbit and behind the satellite. The collisional process that excites these particles also occasionally provides sodium ions in the plasma torus with an electron, removing those new "fast" neutrals from the torus. However, these particles still retain their velocity (70 km/s, compared to the 17 km/s orbital velocity at Io), leading these particles to be ejected in jets leading away from Io.

Io orbits within a belt of intense radiation known as the Io plasma torus. The plasma in this doughnut
Doughnut
A doughnut or donut is a fried dough food and is popular in many countries and prepared in various forms as a sweet snack that can be homemade or purchased in bakeries, supermarkets, food stalls, and franchised specialty outlets...

-shaped ring of ionized sulfur, oxygen, sodium, and chlorine originates when neutral atoms in the "cloud" surrounding Io are ionized and carried along by the Jovian magnetosphere. Unlike the particles in the neutral cloud, these particles co-rotate with Jupiter's magnetosphere, revolving around Jupiter at 74 km/s. Like the rest of Jupiter's magnetic field, the plasma torus is tilted with respect to Jupiter's equator (and Io's orbital plane), meaning Io is at times below and at other times above the core of the plasma torus. As noted above, these ions' higher velocity and energy levels are partly responsible for the removal of neutral atoms and molecules from Io's atmosphere and more extended neutral cloud. The torus is composed of three sections: an outer, "warm" torus that resides just outside Io's orbit; a vertically extended region known as the "ribbon", composed of the neutral source region and cooling plasma, located at around Io's distance from Jupiter; and an inner, "cold" torus, composed of particles that are slowly spiraling in toward Jupiter. After residing an average of 40 days in the torus, particles in the "warm" torus escape and are partially responsible for Jupiter's unusually large magnetosphere
Magnetosphere
A magnetosphere is formed when a stream of charged particles, such as the solar wind, interacts with and is deflected by the intrinsic magnetic field of a planet or similar body. Earth is surrounded by a magnetosphere, as are the other planets with intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Jupiter,...

, their outward pressure inflating it from within. Particles from Io, detected as variations in magnetospheric plasma, have been detected far into the long magnetotail by New Horizons. To study similar variations within the plasma torus, researchers measure the ultraviolet
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

-wavelength light it emits. While such variations have not been definitively linked to variations in Io's volcanic activity (the ultimate source for material in the plasma torus), this link has been established in the neutral sodium cloud.

During an encounter with Jupiter in 1992, the Ulysses spacecraft detected a stream of dust-sized particles being ejected from the Jupiter system. The dust in these discrete streams travel away from Jupiter at speeds upwards of several hundred kilometres per second, have an average size of 10 μm
Micrometre
A micrometer , is by definition 1×10-6 of a meter .In plain English, it means one-millionth of a meter . Its unit symbol in the International System of Units is μm...

, and consist primarily of sodium chloride. Dust measurements by Galileo showed that these dust streams originate from Io, but the exact mechanism for how these form, whether from Io's volcanic activity or material removed from the surface, is unknown.

Jupiter's magnetic field
Magnetic field
A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

 lines, which Io crosses, couples Io's atmosphere and neutral cloud to Jupiter's polar upper atmosphere through the generation
Faraday's law of induction
Faraday's law of induction dates from the 1830s, and is a basic law of electromagnetism relating to the operating principles of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators...

 of an electric current
Electric current
Electric current is a flow of electric charge through a medium.This charge is typically carried by moving electrons in a conductor such as wire...

 known as the Io flux tube
Flux tube
A flux tube is a generally tube-like region of space containing a magnetic field, such that the field at the side surfaces is parallel to those surfaces...

. This current produces an auroral glow in Jupiter's polar regions known as the Io footprint, as well as aurorae in Io's atmosphere. Particles from this auroral interaction act to darken the Jovian polar regions at visible wavelengths. The location of Io and its auroral footprint with respect to the Earth and Jupiter has a strong influence on Jovian radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 emissions from our vantage point: when Io is visible, radio signals from Jupiter increase considerably. The Juno mission, planned for the next decade, should help to shed light on these processes. The Jovian magnetic field lines that do get past Io's ionosphere also induce an electric current, which in turn creates an induced magnetic field, within Io's interior. Io's induced magnetic field is thought to be generated within a partially molten, silicate magma ocean 50 kilometers beneath the moon's surface. Similar induced fields were found at the other Galilean satellites by Galileo, generated within liquid water oceans in the interiors of those moons.

Structure


Io is slightly larger than Earth's Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

. It has a mean radius of 1821.3 km (1,131.7 mi) (about five percent greater than the Moon's) and a mass of 8.9319 kg (about 21 percent greater than the Moon's). It is a slight ellipsoid in shape, with its longest axis directed toward Jupiter. Among the Galilean satellites
Galilean moons
The Galilean moons are the four moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo Galilei in January 1610. They are the largest of the many moons of Jupiter and derive their names from the lovers of Zeus: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Ganymede, Europa and Io participate in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance...

, in both mass and volume, Io ranks behind Ganymede
Ganymede (moon)
Ganymede is a satellite of Jupiter and the largest moon in the Solar System. It is the seventh moon and third Galilean satellite outward from Jupiter. Completing an orbit in roughly seven days, Ganymede participates in a 1:2:4 orbital resonance with the moons Europa and Io, respectively...

 and Callisto
Callisto (moon)
Callisto named after the Greek mythological figure of Callisto) is a moon of the planet Jupiter. It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei. It is the third-largest moon in the Solar System and the second largest in the Jovian system, after Ganymede. Callisto has about 99% the diameter of the...

 but ahead of Europa
Europa (moon)
Europa Slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and probably has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This surface is striated by cracks and...

.

Interior



Composed primarily of silicate
Silicate
A silicate is a compound containing a silicon bearing anion. The great majority of silicates are oxides, but hexafluorosilicate and other anions are also included. This article focuses mainly on the Si-O anions. Silicates comprise the majority of the earth's crust, as well as the other...

 rock
Rock (geology)
In geology, rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids.The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. In general rocks are of three types, namely, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic...

 and iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

, Io is closer in bulk composition to the terrestrial planets than to other satellites in the outer solar system, which are mostly composed of a mix of water ice and silicates. Io has a density of 3.5275 g/cm3, the highest of any moon in the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

; significantly higher than the other Galilean satellites and higher than the Earth's moon. Models based on the Voyager and Galileo measurements of the moon's mass, radius and quadrupole gravitational coefficients (numerical values related to how mass is distributed within an object) suggest that its interior is differentiated between an outer, silicate-rich crust
Crust (geology)
In geology, the crust is the outermost solid shell of a rocky planet or natural satellite, which is chemically distinct from the underlying mantle...

 and mantle
Mantle (geology)
The mantle is a part of a terrestrial planet or other rocky body large enough to have differentiation by density. The interior of the Earth, similar to the other terrestrial planets, is chemically divided into layers. The mantle is a highly viscous layer between the crust and the outer core....

 and an inner, iron- or iron sulfide
Pyrite
The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. This mineral's metallic luster and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow hue have earned it the nickname fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold...

-rich core
Planetary core
The planetary core consists of the innermost layer of a planet.The core may be composed of solid and liquid layers, while the cores of Mars and Venus are thought to be completely solid as they lack an internally generated magnetic field. In our solar system, core size can range from about 20% to...

. The metallic core makes up approximately 20% of Io's mass. Depending on the amount of sulfur in the core, the core has a radius between 350 and(-) if it is composed almost entirely of iron, or between 550 and(-) for a core consisting of a mix of iron and sulfur. Galileo's magnetometer
Magnetometer
A magnetometer is a measuring instrument used to measure the strength or direction of a magnetic field either produced in the laboratory or existing in nature...

 failed to detect an internal, intrinsic magnetic field at Io, suggesting that the core is not convecting
Convection
Convection is the movement of molecules within fluids and rheids. It cannot take place in solids, since neither bulk current flows nor significant diffusion can take place in solids....

.

Modeling of Io's interior composition suggests that the mantle is composed of at least 75% of the magnesium-rich mineral forsterite
Forsterite
Forsterite is the magnesium rich end-member of the olivine solid solution series. Forsterite crystallizes in the orthorhombic system with cell parameters a 4.75 Å , b 10.20 Å and c 5.98 Å .Forsterite is associated with igneous and metamorphic rocks and has also been found in meteorites...

, and has a bulk composition similar to that of L-chondrite
L chondrite
The L type ordinary chondrites are the second most common type of meteorite, accounting for approximately 35% of all those catalogued, and 40% of the ordinary chondrites....

 and LL-chondrite
LL chondrite
The LL chondrites are a class of stony meteorites, the least abundant group of the ordinary chondrites, accounting for about 10–11% of observed ordinary-chondrite falls and 8–9% of all meteorite falls ....

 meteorite
Meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...

s, with higher iron content (compared to silicon
Silicon
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. A tetravalent metalloid, it is less reactive than its chemical analog carbon, the nonmetal directly above it in the periodic table, but more reactive than germanium, the metalloid directly below it in the table...

) than the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 or Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, but lower than Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

. To support the heat flow observed on Io, 10-20% of Io's mantle may be molten, though regions where high-temperature volcanism has been observed may have higher melt fractions. However, re-analysis of Galileo magnetometer data in 2009 revealed the presence of an induced magnetic field at Io, requiring a magma ocean 50 km (31.1 mi) below the surface. Further analysis published in 2011 provided direct evidence of such an ocean. This layer is estimated to be 50 km thick and makes up approximatively 10% of Io's mantle. Temperatures in the magma ocean reach an estimated 1,200 degrees Celsius. It is not known if the 10-20% partial melting percentage for Io's mantle is consistent with the requirement for a significant amount of molten silicates in this possible magma ocean. The lithosphere
Lithosphere
The lithosphere is the rigid outermost shell of a rocky planet. On Earth, it comprises the crust and the portion of the upper mantle that behaves elastically on time scales of thousands of years or greater.- Earth's lithosphere :...

 of Io, composed of basalt and sulfur deposited by Io's extensive volcanism, is at least 12 km (7 mi) thick, but is likely to be less than 40 km (24.9 mi) thick.

Tidal heating


Unlike the Earth and the Moon, Io's main source of internal heat comes from tidal
Tidal force
The tidal force is a secondary effect of the force of gravity and is responsible for the tides. It arises because the gravitational force per unit mass exerted on one body by a second body is not constant across its diameter, the side nearest to the second being more attracted by it than the side...

 dissipation rather than radioactive isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

 decay, the result of Io's orbital resonance with Europa and Ganymede. Such heating is dependent on Io's distance from Jupiter, its orbital eccentricity, the composition of its interior, and its physical state. Its Laplace resonance
Orbital resonance
In celestial mechanics, an orbital resonance occurs when two orbiting bodies exert a regular, periodic gravitational influence on each other, usually due to their orbital periods being related by a ratio of two small integers. Orbital resonances greatly enhance the mutual gravitational influence of...

 with Europa and Ganymede maintains Io's eccentricity and prevents tidal dissipation within Io from circularizing its orbit. The resonant orbit also helps to maintain Io's distance from Jupiter; otherwise tides raised on Jupiter would cause Io to slowly spiral outward from its parent planet. The vertical differences in Io's tidal bulge, between the times Io is at periapsis
Apsis
An apsis , plural apsides , is the point of greatest or least distance of a body from one of the foci of its elliptical orbit. In modern celestial mechanics this focus is also the center of attraction, which is usually the center of mass of the system...

 and apoapsis
Apsis
An apsis , plural apsides , is the point of greatest or least distance of a body from one of the foci of its elliptical orbit. In modern celestial mechanics this focus is also the center of attraction, which is usually the center of mass of the system...

 in its orbit, could be as much as 100 m (328.1 ft). The friction or tidal dissipation produced in Io's interior due to this varying tidal pull, which, without the resonant orbit, would have gone into circularizing Io's orbit instead, creates significant tidal heating within Io's interior, melting a significant amount of the moon's mantle and core. The amount of energy produced is up to 200 times greater than that produced solely from radioactive decay
Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles . The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any physical interaction with another particle from outside the atom...

. This heat is released in the form of volcanic activity, generating its observed high heat flow
Heat transfer
Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the exchange of thermal energy from one physical system to another. Heat transfer is classified into various mechanisms, such as heat conduction, convection, thermal radiation, and phase-change transfer...

 (global total: 0.6 to 1.6×1014 W
Watt
The watt is a derived unit of power in the International System of Units , named after the Scottish engineer James Watt . The unit, defined as one joule per second, measures the rate of energy conversion.-Definition:...

). Models of its orbit suggest that the amount of tidal heating within Io changes with time, and that the current heat flow is not representative of the long-term average.

Surface



Based on their experience with the ancient surfaces of the Moon, Mars, and Mercury, scientists expected to see numerous impact crater
Impact crater
In the broadest sense, the term impact crater can be applied to any depression, natural or manmade, resulting from the high velocity impact of a projectile with a larger body...

s in Voyager 1's first images of Io. The density of impact craters across Io's surface would have given clues to the moon's age. However, they were surprised to discover that the surface was almost completely lacking in impact craters, but was instead covered in smooth plains dotted with tall mountains, pits of various shapes and sizes, and volcanic lava flows. Compared to most worlds observed to that point, Io's surface was covered in a variety of colorful materials (leading Io to be compared to a rotten orange
Orange (fruit)
An orange—specifically, the sweet orange—is the citrus Citrus × sinensis and its fruit. It is the most commonly grown tree fruit in the world....

 or to pizza
Pizza
Pizza is an oven-baked, flat, disc-shaped bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.Originating in Italy, from the Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become popular in many parts of the world. An establishment that makes and sells pizzas is called a "pizzeria"...

) from various sulfurous compounds. The lack of impact craters indicated that Io's surface is geologically young, like the terrestrial surface; volcanic materials continuously bury craters as they are produced. This result was spectacularly confirmed as at least nine active volcanoes were observed by Voyager 1.

Surface composition



Io's colorful appearance is the result of various materials produced by its extensive volcanism. These materials include silicate
Silicate
A silicate is a compound containing a silicon bearing anion. The great majority of silicates are oxides, but hexafluorosilicate and other anions are also included. This article focuses mainly on the Si-O anions. Silicates comprise the majority of the earth's crust, as well as the other...

s (such as orthopyroxene
Pyroxene
The pyroxenes are a group of important rock-forming inosilicate minerals found in many igneous and metamorphic rocks. They share a common structure consisting of single chains of silica tetrahedra and they crystallize in the monoclinic and orthorhombic systems...

), sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

, and sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula . It is released by volcanoes and in various industrial processes. Since coal and petroleum often contain sulfur compounds, their combustion generates sulfur dioxide unless the sulfur compounds are removed before burning the fuel...

. Sulfur dioxide frost is ubiquitous across the surface of Io, forming large regions covered in white or grey materials. Sulfur is also seen in many places across the satellite, forming yellow to yellow-green regions. Sulfur deposited in the mid-latitude and polar regions is often radiation damaged, breaking up normally stable cyclic 8-chain sulfur. This radiation damage produces Io's red-brown polar regions.

Explosive volcanism, often taking the form of umbrella-shaped plumes, paints the surface with sulfurous and silicate materials. Plume deposits on Io are often colored red or white depending on the amount of sulfur and sulfur dioxide in the plume. Generally, plumes formed at volcanic vents from degassing lava contain a greater amount of S2, producing a red "fan" deposit, or in extreme cases, large (often reaching beyond 450 km or 279.6 mi from the central vent) red rings. A prominent example of a red-ring plume deposit is located at Pele. These red deposits consist primarily of sulfur (generally 3- and 4-chain molecular sulfur), sulfur dioxide, and perhaps Cl2SO2. Plumes formed at the margins of silicate lava flows (through the interaction of lava and pre-existing deposits of sulfur and sulfur dioxide) produce white or gray deposits.

Compositional mapping and Io's high density suggest that Io contains little to no water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

, though small pockets of water ice or hydrated minerals
Mineral hydration
Mineral hydration is an inorganic chemical reaction where water is added to the crystal structure of a mineral, usually creating a new mineral, usually called a hydrate....

 have been tentatively identified, most notably on the northwest flank of the mountain Gish Bar Mons. This lack of water is likely due to Jupiter being hot enough early in the evolution of the Solar System
Formation and evolution of the Solar System
The formation and evolution of the Solar System is estimated to have begun 4.568 billion years ago with the gravitational collapse of a small part of a giant molecular cloud...

 to drive off volatile materials
Volatiles
In planetary science, volatiles are that group of chemical elements and chemical compounds with low boiling points that are associated with a planet's or moon's crust and/or atmosphere. Examples include nitrogen, water, carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen, and methane, all compounds of C, H, O...

 like water in the vicinity of Io, but not hot enough to do so farther out.

Volcanism



The tidal heating produced by Io's forced orbital eccentricity
Orbital eccentricity
The orbital eccentricity of an astronomical body is the amount by which its orbit deviates from a perfect circle, where 0 is perfectly circular, and 1.0 is a parabola, and no longer a closed orbit...

 has led the moon to become one of the most volcanically active worlds in the Solar System, with hundreds of volcanic centres and extensive lava flows
Lava
Lava refers both to molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption and the resulting rock after solidification and cooling. This molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites. When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava is a liquid at...

. During a major eruption, lava flows tens or even hundreds of kilometres long can be produced, consisting mostly of basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 silicate lavas with either mafic
Mafic
Mafic is an adjective describing a silicate mineral or rock that is rich in magnesium and iron; the term is a portmanteau of the words "magnesium" and "ferric". Most mafic minerals are dark in color and the relative density is greater than 3. Common rock-forming mafic minerals include olivine,...

 or ultramafic (magnesium-rich) compositions. As a by-product of this activity, sulfur, sulfur dioxide gas and silicate pyroclastic
Pyroclastic rock
Pyroclastic rocks or pyroclastics are clastic rocks composed solely or primarily of volcanic materials. Where the volcanic material has been transported and reworked through mechanical action, such as by wind or water, these rocks are termed volcaniclastic...

 material (like ash) are blown up to 200 km (124.3 mi) into space, producing large, umbrella-shaped plumes, painting the surrounding terrain in red, black, and white, and providing material for Io's patchy atmosphere and Jupiter's extensive magnetosphere.

Io's surface is dotted with volcanic depressions known as paterae. Paterae generally have flat floors bounded by steep walls. These features resemble terrestrial caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

s, but it is unknown if they are produced through collapse over an emptied lava chamber like their terrestrial cousins. One hypothesis suggests that these features are produced through the exhumation of volcanic sills
Sill (geology)
In geology, a sill is a tabular sheet intrusion that has intruded between older layers of sedimentary rock, beds of volcanic lava or tuff, or even along the direction of foliation in metamorphic rock. The term sill is synonymous with concordant intrusive sheet...

, and the overlying material is either blasted out or integrated into the sill. Unlike similar features on Earth and Mars, these depressions generally do not lie at the peak of shield volcano
Shield volcano
A shield volcano is a type of volcano usually built almost entirely of fluid lava flows. They are named for their large size and low profile, resembling a warrior's shield. This is caused by the highly fluid lava they erupt, which travels farther than lava erupted from more explosive volcanoes...

es and are normally larger, with an average diameter of 41 km (25 mi), the largest being Loki Patera
Loki Patera
Loki Patera is the largest volcanic depression on Jupiter's moon Io, in diameter. It contains an active lava lake, with an episodically overturning crust. The level of activity seen is similar to a superfast spreading mid-ocean ridge on Earth...

 at 202 km (125.5 mi). Whatever the formation mechanism, the morphology and distribution of many paterae suggest that these features are structurally controlled, with at least half bounded by faults or mountains. These features are often the site of volcanic eruptions, either from lava flows spreading across the floors of the paterae, as at an eruption at Gish Bar Patera
Gish Bar Patera
Gish Bar Patera is a patera, or a complex crater with scalloped edges, on Jupiter's moon Io. It is 106.3 by 115.0 kilometers and 9,600 km2 in area. It is located at . It is named after the Babylonian sun god Gish Bar. Its name was approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1997. It is...

 in 2001, or in the form of a lava lake
Lava lake
Lava lakes are large volumes of molten lava, usually basaltic, contained in a volcanic vent, crater, or broad depression. The term is used to describe both lava lakes that are wholly or partly molten and those that are solidified...

. Lava lakes on Io either have a continuously overturning lava crust, such as at Pele, or an episodically overturning crust, such as at Loki.

Lava flows represent another major volcanic terrain on Io. Magma erupts onto the surface from vents on the floor of paterae or on the plains from fissures, producing inflated, compound lava flows similar to those seen at Kilauea
Kilauea
Kīlauea is a volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, and one of five shield volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaii. Kīlauea means "spewing" or "much spreading" in the Hawaiian language, referring to its frequent outpouring of lava. The Puu Ōō cone has been continuously erupting in the eastern...

 in Hawaii. Images from the Galileo spacecraft revealed that many of Io's major lava flows, like those at Prometheus
Prometheus (volcano)
Prometheus is an active volcano on Jupiter's moon Io. It is located on Io's hemisphere facing away from Jupiter at . Prometheus consists of a -wide volcanic pit named Prometheus Patera and a -long compound lava flow, all surrounded by reddish sulfur and circular, bright sulfur dioxide volcanic...

 and Amirani
Amirani (volcano)
Amirani is an active volcano on Jupiter's moon Io. It is located on Io's leading hemisphere at .The volcano is responsible for the largest active lava flow in the entire Solar System, with recent flows dwarfing those of even other volcanos on Io...

, are produced by the build-up of small breakouts of lava flows on top of older flows. Larger outbreaks of lava have also been observed on Io. For example, the leading edge of the Prometheus flow moved 75 to 95 km (46.6 to 59 mi) between Voyager in 1979 and the first Galileo observations in 1996. A major eruption in 1997 produced more than 3500 km² (1,351.4 sq mi) of fresh lava and flooded the floor of the adjacent Pillan Patera.


Analysis of the Voyager images led scientists to believe that these flows were composed mostly of various compounds of molten sulfur. However, subsequent Earth-based infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 studies and measurements from the Galileo spacecraft indicate that these flows are composed of basaltic lava with mafic to ultramafic compositions. This hypothesis is based on temperature measurements of Io's "hotspots", or thermal-emission locations, which suggest temperatures of at least 1300 K and some as high as 1600 K. Initial estimates suggesting eruption temperatures approaching 2000 K have since proven to be overestimates since the wrong thermal models were used to model the temperatures.

The discovery of plumes at the volcanoes Pele
Pele (volcano)
Pele is an active volcano on the surface of Jupiter's moon Io. It is located on Io's trailing hemisphere at A large, tall volcanic plume has been observed at Pele by various spacecraft starting with Voyager 1 in 1979, though it has not been persistent. The discovery of the Pele plume on March...

 and Loki were the first sign that Io is geologically active. Generally, these plumes are formed when volatiles like sulfur and sulfur dioxide are ejected skyward from Io's volcanoes at speeds reaching 1 km/s (0.6 mps), creating umbrella-shaped clouds of gas and dust. Additional material that might be found in these volcanic plumes include sodium, potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

, and chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

. These plumes appear to be formed in one of two ways. Io's largest plumes are created when dissolved sulfur and sulfur dioxide gas are released from erupting magma at volcanic vents or lava lakes, often dragging silicate pyroclastic material with them. These plumes form red (from the short-chain sulfur) and black (from the silicate pyroclastics) deposits on the surface. Plumes formed in this manner are among the largest observed at Io, forming red rings more than 1000 km (621.4 mi) in diameter. Examples of this plume type include Pele, Tvashtar, and Dazhbog
Dazhbog Patera
Dazhbog Patera is a volcanic feature on Jupiter's moon Io. Named after Dažbog, it has a diameter of 118.36 km. and is located . This volcano is difficult to differentiate from the other volcanoes and geological features in some images of Io. In images from the Voyager spacecraft, this caldera...

. Another type of plume is produced when encroaching lava flows vaporize underlying sulfur dioxide frost, sending the sulfur skyward. This type of plume often forms bright circular deposits consisting of sulfur dioxide. These plumes are often less than 100 km (62.1 mi) tall, and are among the most long-lived plumes on Io. Examples include Prometheus, Amirani, and Masubi
Masubi (volcano)
Masubi is an active volcano on Jupiter's moon Io. It is located on Io's leading hemisphere at within a bright terrain region named Tarsus Regio. A volcanic plume has been observed at Masubi by various spacecraft starting with Voyager 1 in 1979, though it has not been persistent like similar...

.

Mountains


Io has 100 to 150 mountains. These structures average 6 km (4 mi) in height and reach a maximum of 17.5 ± at South Boösaule Montes. Mountains often appear as large (the average mountain is 157 km or 98 mi long), isolated structures with no apparent global tectonic patterns outlined, as is the case on Earth. To support the tremendous topography observed at these mountains requires compositions consisting mostly of silicate rock, as opposed to sulfur.

Despite the extensive volcanism that gives Io its distinctive appearance, nearly all its mountains are tectonic structures, and are not produced by volcanoes. Instead, most Ionian mountains form as the result of compressive stresses on the base of the lithosphere, which uplift and often tilt chunks of Io's crust through thrust fault
Thrust fault
A thrust fault is a type of fault, or break in the Earth's crust across which there has been relative movement, in which rocks of lower stratigraphic position are pushed up and over higher strata. They are often recognized because they place older rocks above younger...

ing. The compressive stresses leading to mountain formation are the result of subsidence
Subsidence
Subsidence is the motion of a surface as it shifts downward relative to a datum such as sea-level. The opposite of subsidence is uplift, which results in an increase in elevation...

 from the continuous burial of volcanic materials. The global distribution of mountains appears to be opposite that of volcanic structures; mountains dominate areas with fewer volcanoes and vice versa. This suggests large-scale regions in Io's lithosphere where compression (supportive of mountain formation) and extension (supportive of patera formation) dominate. Locally, however, mountains and paterae often abut one another, suggesting that magma often exploits faults formed during mountain formation to reach the surface.

Mountains on Io (generally, structures rising above the surrounding plains) have a variety of morphologies. Plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

s are most common. These structures resemble large, flat-topped mesa
Mesa
A mesa or table mountain is an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape....

s with rugged surfaces. Other mountains appear to be tilted crustal blocks, with a shallow slope from the formerly flat surface and a steep slope consisting of formerly sub-surface materials uplifted by compressive stresses. Both types of mountains often have steep scarps
Escarpment
An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.-Description and variants:...

 along one or more margins. Only a handful of mountains on Io appear to have a volcanic origin. These mountains resemble small shield volcano
Shield volcano
A shield volcano is a type of volcano usually built almost entirely of fluid lava flows. They are named for their large size and low profile, resembling a warrior's shield. This is caused by the highly fluid lava they erupt, which travels farther than lava erupted from more explosive volcanoes...

es, with steep slopes (6–7°) near a small, central caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

 and shallow slopes along their margins. These volcanic mountains are often smaller than the average mountain on Io, averaging only 1 to 2 km (0.621372736649807 to 1.2 mi) in height and 40 to 60 km (24.9 to 37.3 mi) wide. Other shield volcanoes with much shallower slopes are inferred from the morphology of several of Io's volcanoes, where thin flows radiate out from a central patera, such as at Ra Patera
Ra Patera
Ra Patera is an extraterrestrial volcano located on Io. An active volcano, it was first studied in 1979 via Voyager stereo imagery to determine its geology, topography, and the source of its eruptions. When first discovered, the mountain reached about in height and featured numerous lava flows of...

.

Nearly all mountains appear to be in some stage of degradation. Large landslide
Landslide
A landslide or landslip is a geological phenomenon which includes a wide range of ground movement, such as rockfalls, deep failure of slopes and shallow debris flows, which can occur in offshore, coastal and onshore environments...

 deposits are common at the base of Ionian mountains, suggesting that mass wasting
Mass wasting
Mass wasting, also known as slope movement or mass movement, is the geomorphic process by which soil, regolith, and rock move downslope under the force of gravity. Types of mass wasting include creep, slides, flows, topples, and falls, each with its own characteristic features, and taking place...

 is the primary form of degradation. Scalloped margins are common among Io's mesas and plateaus, the result of sulfur dioxide sapping
Groundwater sapping
Groundwater sapping is the geomorphic process in which groundwater exits a bank or hillslope laterally as seeps and springs and erodes soil from the slope. This often causes the slope to be undermined and undergo mass wasting, hence the word sapping....

 from Io's crust, producing zones of weakness along mountain margins.

Atmosphere



Io has an extremely thin atmosphere
Atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

 consisting mainly of sulfur dioxide , with minor constituents including sulfur monoxide
Sulfur monoxide
Sulfur monoxide is an inorganic compound with formula . It is only found as a dilute gas phase. When concentrated or condensed, it converts to S2O2 . It has been detected in space but is rarely encountered intact otherwise.-Structure and bonding:The SO molecule has a triplet ground state similar...

 , sodium chloride
Sodium chloride
Sodium chloride, also known as salt, common salt, table salt or halite, is an inorganic compound with the formula NaCl. Sodium chloride is the salt most responsible for the salinity of the ocean and of the extracellular fluid of many multicellular organisms...

 , and atomic sulfur
Sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

 and oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

. The atmosphere has significant variations in density and temperature with time of day, latitude, volcanic activity, and surface frost abundance. The maximum atmospheric pressure on Io ranges from 3.3 to 3 pascals
Pascal (unit)
The pascal is the SI derived unit of pressure, internal pressure, stress, Young's modulus and tensile strength, named after the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It is a measure of force per unit area, defined as one newton per square metre...

 (Pa) or 0.3 to 3 nbar
Bar (unit)
The bar is a unit of pressure equal to 100 kilopascals, and roughly equal to the atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level. Other units derived from the bar are the megabar , kilobar , decibar , centibar , and millibar...

, spatially seen on Io's anti-Jupiter hemisphere and along the equator, and temporally in the early afternoon when the temperature of surface frost peaks. Localized peaks at volcanic plumes have also been seen, with pressures of 5 to 40  Pa (5 to 40 nbar). Io's atmospheric pressure is lowest on the moon's night-side, where the pressure dips to 0.1 to 1 Pa (0.0001 to 0.001 nbar). Io's atmospheric temperature ranges from the temperature of the surface at low altitudes, where sulfur dioxide is in vapor pressure equilibrium with frost on the surface, to 1800 K at higher altitudes where the thinner atmospheric density permits heating from plasma in the Io plasma torus and from Joule heating from the Io flux tube. The low pressure limits the atmosphere's effect on the surface, except for temporarily redistributing sulfur dioxide from frost-rich to frost-poor areas, and to expand the size of plume deposit rings when plume material re-enters the thicker dayside atmosphere. The thin Ionian atmosphere also means any future landing probes sent to investigate Io will not need to be encased in an aeroshell-style heatshield, but instead will require retrorocket
Retrorocket
A retrorocket is a rocket engine providing thrust opposing the motion of a spacecraft, thereby causing it to decelerate.-History:...

s for a soft landing
Landing
thumb|A [[Mute Swan]] alighting. Note the ruffled feathers on top of the wings indicate that the swan is flying at the [[Stall |stall]]ing speed...

. The thin atmosphere also necessitates a rugged lander capable of enduring the strong Jovian radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

, which a thicker atmosphere would attenuate.

Gas in Io's atmosphere is stripped by Jupiter's magnetosphere, escaping to either the neutral cloud that surrounds Io, or the Io plasma torus, a ring of ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

ized particles that shares Io's orbit but co-rotates with the magnetosphere of Jupiter. Approximately one ton of material is removed from the atmosphere every second through this process so that it must be constantly replenished. The most dramatic source of are volcanic plumes, which pump 104 kg of sulfur dioxide per second into Io's atmosphere on average, though most of this condenses back onto the surface. Much of the sulfur dioxide in Io's atmosphere sustained by sunlight-driven sublimation of frozen on the surface. The day-side atmosphere is largely confined to within 40° of the equator, where the surface is warmest and most active volcanic plumes reside. A sublimation-driven atmosphere is also consistent with observations that Io's atmosphere is densest over the anti-Jupiter hemisphere, where frost is most abundant, and is densest when Io is closer to the Sun. However, some contributions from volcanic plumes are required as the highest observed densities have been seen near volcanic vents. Because the density of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere is tied directly to surface temperature, Io's atmosphere partially collapses at night or when the satellite is in the shadow of Jupiter. The collapse during eclipse is limited somewhat by the formation of a diffusion layer of sulfur monoxide in the lowest portion of the atmosphere, but the atmosphere pressure of Io's nightside atmosphere is two to four orders of magnitude less than at its peak just past noon. The minor constituents of Io's atmosphere, such as , , , and derive either from: direct volcanic outgassing; photodissociation
Photodissociation
Photodissociation, photolysis, or photodecomposition is a chemical reaction in which a chemical compound is broken down by photons. It is defined as the interaction of one or more photons with one target molecule....

, or chemical breakdown caused by solar ultraviolet radiation, from ; or the sputtering
Sputtering
Sputtering is a process whereby atoms are ejected from a solid target material due to bombardment of the target by energetic particles. It is commonly used for thin-film deposition, etching and analytical techniques .-Physics of sputtering:...

 of surface deposits by charged particles from Jupiter's magnetosphere.

High-resolution images of Io acquired while the satellite is experiencing an eclipse reveal an aurora
Aurora (astronomy)
An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere...

-like glow. As on Earth, this is due to radiation hitting the atmosphere, though in this case the charged particles come from Jupiter's magnetic field rather than the solar wind
Solar wind
The solar wind is a stream of charged particles ejected from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. It mostly consists of electrons and protons with energies usually between 1.5 and 10 keV. The stream of particles varies in temperature and speed over time...

. Aurorae usually occur near the magnetic poles of planets, but Io's are brightest near its equator. Io lacks an intrinsic magnetic field of its own; therefore, electrons traveling along Jupiter's magnetic field near Io directly impact the satellite's atmosphere. More electrons collide with the atmosphere, producing the brightest aurora, where the field lines are tangent to the satellite (i.e., near the equator), since the column of gas they pass through is longer there. Aurorae associated with these tangent points on Io are observed to rock with the changing orientation of Jupiter's tilted magnetic dipole. Fainter aurora from oxygen atoms along the limb of Io (the red glows in the image at right), and sodium atoms on Io's night-side (the green glows in the same image) have also been observed.

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