Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hubble Clicks Images Of Io Sweeping Across Jupiter

Date:
April 28, 1999
Source:
Space Telescope Science Institute
Summary:
While hunting for volcanic plumes on Io, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the volatile moon sweeping across the giant face of Jupiter. Only a few weeks before the dramatic images were taken, the orbiting telescope snapped a portrait of one of Io's volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide "snow."

While hunting for volcanic plumes on Io, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the volatile moon sweeping across the giant face of Jupiter. Only a few weeks before the dramatic images were taken, the orbiting telescope snapped a portrait of one of Io's volcanoes spewing sulfur dioxide "snow."

These stunning images of the planetary duo are being released to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the Hubble telescope's launch on April 24, 1990. All of these images were taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.

The three overlapping snapshots show in crisp detail Io passing above Jupiter's turbulent clouds. The close-up picture of Io (bottom right) reveal a 120-mile-high (200-kilometer) plume of sulfur dioxide "snow" emanating from Pillan, one of the moon's active volcanoes.

"Other observations have inferred sulfur dioxide 'snow' in Io's plumes, but this image offers direct observational evidence for sulfur dioxide 'snow' in an Io plume," explains John R. Spencer of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz.

A Trip Around Jupiter

The three snapshots of the volcanic moon rounding Jupiter were taken over a 1.8-hour time span. Io is roughly the size of Earth's moon but 2,000 times farther away. In two of the images, Io appears to be skimming Jupiter's cloud tops, but it's actually 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometers) away. Io zips around Jupiter in 1.8 days, whereas the moon circles Earth every 28 days.

The conspicuous black spot on Jupiter is Io's shadow and is about the size of the moon itself (2,262 miles or 3,640 kilometers across). This shadow sails across the face of Jupiter at 38,000 mph (17 kilometers per second). The smallest details visible on Io and Jupiter measure 93 miles (150 kilometers) across, or about the size of Connecticut.

These images were further sharpened through image reconstruction techniques. The view is so crisp that one would have to stand on Io to see this much detail on Jupiter with the naked eye.

The bright patches on Io are regions of sulfur dioxide frost. On Jupiter, the white and brown regions distinguish areas of high-altitude haze and clouds; the blue regions depict relatively clear skies at high altitudes.

These images were taken July 22, 1997, in two wavelengths: 3400 Angstroms (ultraviolet) and 4100 Angstroms (violet). The colors do not correspond closely to what the human eye would see because ultraviolet light is invisible to the eye.

Io: Jupiter's Volcanic Moon

In the close-up picture of Io (bottom right), the mound rising from Io's surface is actually an eruption from Pillan, a volcano that had previously been dormant.

Measurements at two ultraviolet wavelengths indicate that the ejecta consist of sulfur dioxide "snow," making the plume appear green in this false-color image. Astronomers increased the color contrast and added false colors to the image to make the faint plume visible.

Pillan's plume is very hot and its ejecta is moving extremely fast. Based on information from the Galileo spacecraft, Pillan's outburst is at least 2,240 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Kelvin). The late bloomer is spewing material at speeds of 1,800 mph (2,880 kilometers per hour). The hot sulfur dioxide gas expelled from the volcano cools rapidly as it expands into space, freezing into snow.

Io is well known for its active volcanoes, many of which blast huge plumes of volcanic debris into space. Astronomers discovered Pillan's volcanic explosion while looking for similar activity from a known active volcano, Pele, about 300 miles (500 kilometers) away from Pillan. But Pele turned out to be peaceful. Io has hundreds of active volcanoes, but only a few, typically eight or nine, have visible plumes at any given time.

Scientists will get a closer look at Io later this year during a pair of close flybys to be performed by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter and its moons for nearly 3-1/2 years.

The first Galileo flyby is scheduled for Oct. 10 at an altitude of 379 miles (610 kilometers), and the other will occur on Nov. 25, when the spacecraft will fly only 186 miles (300 kilometers) above Io's fiery surface. If the spacecraft survives this daring journey into the intense Jovian radiation environment near Io, it will send back images with dramatically higher resolution than any obtained before, according to mission scientists.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Space Telescope Science Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Space Telescope Science Institute. "Hubble Clicks Images Of Io Sweeping Across Jupiter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990428065350.htm>.
Space Telescope Science Institute. (1999, April 28). Hubble Clicks Images Of Io Sweeping Across Jupiter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990428065350.htm
Space Telescope Science Institute. "Hubble Clicks Images Of Io Sweeping Across Jupiter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990428065350.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks from Space Station

AP (July 22, 2014) A Russian Soyuz cargo-carrying spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station on Monday. The craft is due to undergo about ten days of engineering tests before it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

AP (July 21, 2014) NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 18, 2014

NASA (July 18, 2014) Apollo 11 yesterday, Next Giant Leap tomorrow, Science instruments for Europa mission, and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins