The moon of Jupiter, Io may implode during an eclipse. This was noticed by a team of space scientists.
A group of scientists has declared that Jupiter’s moon, Io is undergoing atmospheric changes. This is a volcanically active moon and it has Jupiter’s shadow to eclipse it everyday.
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Io’s flimsy atmosphere consists of sulphur dioxide gas which is released from the volcanoes. This atmosphere is collapsing before our very eyes due to the SO2 freezing on the surface. When Io moves out of the shadow of Jupiter, the ice melts.
This study, led by SwRI’s Constantine Tsang, is the first one that explores the conditions on Jupiter’s moon Io. The moon is a geologically active satellite.
“This research is the first time scientists have observed this phenomenon directly, improving our understanding of this geologically active moon,” said Tsang, a senior research scientist in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division.
The findings were published in a study titled “The Collapse of Io’s Primary Atmosphere in Jupiter Eclipse” in the Journal of Geophysical Research. SwRI’s team used the eight-meter Gemini North telescope in Hawaii and the Texas Echelon Cross Echelle Spectrograph (TEXES) for this research.
Io’s atmosphere begins to collapse when temperatures are lowered during the eclipse. The sunlight exposure simply goes way down at such a time. Thus the atmosphere undergoes deflation and inflation at regular intervals.
The sublimation of SO2 ice is the name of the game. This tempering of the surface leads to cracks in the system. Prior to the present moment observation of Io’s atmosphere was a difficult deal. Yet today it is possible.
The TEXES telescope allows the observation of Io from a distance with clarity and precision. Io happens to be the most volcanically potent place in the solar system.
TEXES measures the heavenly body using radiation instead of light. The gravitational link between Jupiter and Io has wreaked havoc with the latter’s structure.
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It is indeed a possibility that it will implode soon. A more thorough understanding of Io’s SO2 ice will lend us clues as to the ultimate future of this satellite which has so much volcanic activity taking place on it.