COSMIC SECRETS
The Enigmas on IO
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Hellfire and Brimstone
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo

 
Farside
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo
Welcome to Hell! A planetoid literally made of Fire and Brimstone
The photo above was taken by the Galileo Satellite of Jupiter's  Moon IO
The Gates of Hell
Looking Into an Io Volcano: Mt Tupan Patera

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Image credit: NASA/Galileo
Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: What would it look like to peer into one of the volcanoes currently active on Jupiter's moon Io? The caldera of Tupan Patera, named after a Brazilian thunder god, reveals itself to be a strange and dangerous place, replete with hot black lava, warm red sulfur deposits likely deposited from vented gas, and hilly yellow terrain also high in sulfur. The robot spacecraft Galileo currently orbiting Jupiter provided the above vista late last year when it swooped by the active world. Tupan Patera is actually a volcanic depression, surrounded by cliffs nearly a kilometer high. The width of the depression is about 75 kilometers. As Galileo has filled its mission objectives and is running low on maneuvering fuel, NASA plans to crash the spacecraft into Jupiter during 2003. 

 Voyager 1
Loki Eruption

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Image credit: NASA/Voyager 1
Voyager 1 took this amazing image of a 300 meter high plume at the moment of eruption.
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Image credit: NASA/Voyager 1
Loki
Eruption Plume of Loki over the horizon taken by Voyager 1. 
Voyager 1
Gas Plumes

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Image credit: NASA/Voyager 1
In the summer of 1979, as the Voyager spacecraft approached Jupiter for mankind's closest look yet at the largest planet in our solar system, the Voyager navigation team was working overtime to make certain that the spacecraft's trajectory was sufficiently precise to guarantee a subsequent encounter with Saturn.

In one of the enhanced approach images Linda Morabito, a member of that Voyager navigation team, discovered an illuminated plume emanating from the surface of Io, the innermost of Jupiter's large moons. She soon verified that the origin of the plume was a strange Io surface feature that some of the scientists had speculated might be a volcano. Ms. Morabito had indeed confirmed the existence of the first active volcano beyond Earth.

Image credit: NASA/Voyager 1
"This lava surface was produced by the many volcanos scattered all over Io. Many of these volcanos are still active, producing either lava flows or enormous fountains called "plumes," which can be a hundred miles high or more, or sometimes both lava and a plume at the same time.

These plumes are believed to be produced the same way geysers are on Earth, except that instead of being made of boiling water they consist of hot sulfur dioxide gas escaping from the volcano's interior. As this invisible gas expands into space, it cools and freezes into something like snowflakes, so that the plumes can be seen." - Source

Voyager 1
Ra Patera

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Image credit: NASA/Voyager 1
Galileo
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Illustration Credit: NASA/JPL
Image credit: NASA/Galileo
Pele
Explanation: Glowing hot lava from the heart of Io's volcano Pele is visible in this image. Pele is near the middle of the large 1,300 kilometer diameter ring of yellowish sulfurous material deposited by its frequent volcanic plumes. The dull dark red spot on Pele itself corresponds to hot lava in the volcano's eruptive center. Temperatures up to 1,027 degrees Celsius (1,880 degrees Fahrenheit) have been previously measured for the lava.
 
Prometheus
Culann Patera
Image credit: NASA/Galileo

These two clips are taken from the top image taken by Galileo. They show two major volcanoes in the process of erupting. The black plumes are clear and the one on the right shows fresh lava. The orange red lava is mainly sulfur, as is the yellow material covering most of IO, literally fire and brimstone...

"Known as Io's "Old Faithful", the Prometheus volcano has been active during every observation of it since it was first seen by Voyager 1 in 1979. The Prometheus plume is 80 km (50 miles) tall, and although its size and shape have remained constant over the years, its plume location has migrated about 85 km (53 miles) to the west. Its volcanic field is similar to those of Hawaiian volcanoes, but it is much larger and more active. The bright, ring shaped deposit around the volcano forms when sulfur dioxide, ejected during the plume eruption, condenses into snow and falls back to the surface. Scientists have been especially interested in determining whether the Prometheus plume is erupting from a vent at the west end of the dark lava flow, or if it is being produced by advancing lava as it flows over a surface rich in sulfur dioxide. New images have helped to resolve this question." - Source

Culann Patera
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo
Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: What causes the unusual colors surrounding Io's volcanoes? Io, the innermost large moon of Jupiter, is known to be the most tumultuous body in the Solar System. Approximately the size of Earth's Moon, Io undergoes nearly continuous volcanic eruptions from an interior heated by gravitational tides from Jupiter and Jupiter's other large moons. The robot spacecraft Galileo currently orbiting Jupiter has been monitoring the active volcano Culann Patera over the past few years. The above images indicate that the volcano has produced not only red and black colored lava flows, but yellow sulfur patches from explosive plumes. Green colors may arise when these processes affect the same terrain. White patches may be caused, in part, by sulfur dioxide snow. As Galileo has fulfilled its mission objectives and is running low on maneuvering fuel, NASA plans to crash the spacecraft into Jupiter during 2003. 

Pele
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo
Io's most distinctive feature is unquestionably the volcanic center, Pele. Pele is the site of an ongoing, high velocity volcanic eruption. Deposits of sulfurous materials from Pele's plume are ejected out to more than 600 km (375 miles) from the vent. Its plume is nearly invisible, except in back-lit photographs, and it is thought to be an example of a stealth plume. Stealth plumes occur when the sulfur dioxide gas in the volcanic vent is at a very high temperature. Upon being expelled from the vent, the gas rapidly expands resulting in an undetectable, high velocity jet of cold gas from which no snow is produced.
 
Ra Patera
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo
"Io has an extremely thin atmosphere mostly composed of sulfur dioxide which has escaped from its volcanos. Its peak density is about ten million times less than that of the Earth's atmosphere, and is very cold (no more than 130 K = -225 deg F) near the ground. At higher altitudes the atmosphere is probably warmer because electrical currents flow through the atmosphere, driven like the current in a generator by Io's motion through Jupiter's magnetic field.

Io's atmosphere's most unusual feature is that it condenses as ice onto the surface at night and evaporates back into the atmosphere by day. Because Io rotates on its axis once about every 42 hours, the patch of atmosphere follows the sunlight around Io while the night-time vacuum moves around towards the opposite side. With atmosphere on one side of Io and vacuum on the other, permanent strong winds, approaching the speed of sound, blow perpetually from the sunny side to the dark. Because the atmosphere is so tenuous, these winds blowing at hundreds of miles per hour do not seem to move much dirt or other rubble on Io, although there may not be much rubble to move because the surface of Io is frequently resurfaced with fresh lava. "  - Source

Loki
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo
"Loki is the most powerful volcano in the solar system, and consistently emits more heat than all of Earth's volcanoes combined. Loki has an enormous caldera, larger than the state of Maryland, which is continually flooded with lava. Lava temperatures recorded at the Loki hot spot are similar to those of basaltic lava on Earth." - Source
Tvashtar Catena
Fire and Ice

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Image credit: NASA/Galileo
"In December 1999, the Galileo spacecraft detected a dynamic eruption at Tvashtar Catena, a chain of volcanic calderas located near Io's north pole. The image above reveals a change in the location of hot lava over a period of a few months from late 1999 to early 2000.

In the image above, the orange and white areas on the left side are places where hot lava has recently erupted. The two small white spots are places where molten rock is exposed at the surface near the edges of the lava flows. The long, yellow and orange stream is more than 60 km long and is a cooling lava flow.  The dark deposits in the vicinity of the active flows were not seen in the image taken in the November, 1999 flyby." - Source

The white color in the picture is predominantly sulfur dioxide "snow", though recent discoveries indicate some may be sodium or potassium chloride deposits {salt}. The yellow deposits are sulfur. The atmosphere consist of mainly sulfur dioxide, so the whole planet would have that distinctive rotten egg smell.

The Dark Side
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo - Click for Larger Image

The Far Side
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Image credit: NASA/Galileo - lick on image for larger view
Comments:
The big red ring on the right is Tvashtar Catena and Loki is the black area.
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