July 24, 2024

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NASA’s Juno probe detects plumes of smoke above lava lakes on Jupiter’s moon

NASA’s Juno probe detects plumes of smoke above lava lakes on Jupiter’s moon

picture: Image processing by Andrea Locke (CC BY)

It’s not a relatively large moon compared to some of its neighbours, but Jupiter’s moon Io is very active, with hundreds of volcanoes spewing lava plumes Dozens of miles Above its surface, according to NASA. Infrared technology aboard the space agency’s Juno probe mapped two such eruptions in February, returning valuable data on mysterious events beneath Io’s surface. Researchers shared their insights on this issue in paper Published last week.

From about 2,400 miles away, the probe’s Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument revealed that Io’s entire surface is covered in lava lakes, explained Alessandro Moura, Juno mission co-investigator from the National Institute in Rome. Volcanic found in caldera-like features. for astrophysics. On Earth, a caldera is a crater formed by the collapse of a volcano. Io is about a quarter the size of Earth in diameter, and is slightly larger than Earth’s moon.

“In the area of ​​Io’s surface for which we have the most complete data, we estimate that about 3% is covered by some sort of molten lava lake,” Mora said. Juno’s JIRAM instrument came via the Italian space agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana.

Researchers model lava lake movement on Io

According to Mora, lead author of the Io paper, the probe’s flybys reveal the most common type of volcanic activity on Jupiter’s hottest moon — “massive lava lakes where magma rises and falls.”

“The lava crust is forced to collapse onto the walls of the lake, forming the typical lava ring we see in Hawaiian lava lakes. The walls are likely hundreds of meters high, which explains why the magma spill is generally not observed,” he added.

Researchers are still studying data collected by the two Juno missions around Io, which occurred in February 2024 and December 2023.

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