Io’s Volcanoes

Io looks a bit like a pale pizza, covered in weird splotches that turn put to be volcanoes, surrounded by the black of space.

It’s fascinating to me that we can peer up through our thick and whiriling sea of gasses above us that we call our atmosphere and peer into the far reaches of our solar system to capture images of Jupiter’s moons and their surface activity here from the surface of our own planet. 

Thanks to the amazing Phil Plait for the inspiration to look up today!

An amazing image of Io, Jupiter’s tortured hell-moon:

Yowza! All those blotches on it are volcanoes, many of which are active (Io is relentlessly squeezed by Jupiter’s immense tidal force, which create internal friction which melts the moon’s interior and cracks the outer layers, allowing that material to reach the surface). In fact the paper notes that the observations show some changes on the surface. The volcano Pele is the oddly shaped dark blob just below and to the right of center, surrounded by a red ring of erupted material. There are two volcanoes just to the right of it; the left one is Pillan Patera, and the scientists note that the red ring looks overlaid by newer lighter material right where Pillan sits. That’s likely from a powerful eruption that occurred in 2021.

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